New development plan for Fish Creek Community Forest expected this year

The city says it's impossible to reclaim a section of trail in Fish Creek Community Forest washed out by a storm in 2016, but councillors will see a new five-year plan for improving the park later this year.

The city has earmarked $750,000 for trail development in 2019, with Fish Creek taking the focus, according to city budget documents. An assessment of the forest was carried out in 2018 to study the condition and cost to reclaim the washed-out Silviculture Trail, and the potential for adding new trails to the rest of the existing five-kilometre network.

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"It's virtually impossible to reclaim (the Silviculture Trail) with any assurance that we'd still be having it in usable form in five to ten years time," Hunter said," City Manager Dianne Hunter told council on Monday.

"So, the question is, if we can't reclaim the slide area, can we expand the trail system along Fish Creek into less hazardous areas to get the same experience that we had before, but in areas that's easier to maintain?" Hunter said.

Heavy winds and rain closed Fish Creek in June 2016, and city crews had cleared and reopened the Anatomy and Multi-Purpose trails a short week later.

The Silviculture Trail, however, saw heavy damage when a landslide sent a torrent of mud and fallen trees across a wide swath of its path. A sign at the trailhead behind Northern Lights College warns residents to use the trail at their own risk, while one section of the trail is barricaded.

City staff have developed a five-year plan with a number of options for council to consider. That report is due to council as early as February.

There are around five kilometres of trails on the south side of Fish Creek, and the city has considered the potential of building a bridge over the creek and developing its north side.

The city expanded its boundaries in 2016, which included bringing in more land on the eastern edge of Fish Creek that the city said could see an expansion of the trail system and greenway there.

The city has set aside $750,000 in its 2019 capital budget for trail development, with the money expected to come from gas tax funding.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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