By Cole Parkinson
A local group is hoping to improve biking/hiking trails in the area as well as provide some more safety features for those venturing outdoors.
Several Trail 77 members were in Municipal District of Taber council chambers on Feb. 25 to explain what they are hoping to accomplish as spring gets closer.
“The Trail 77 Club consists of about nine board members who consist of a broad range of activities where they participate in, from biking, running, walking, and hiking. We want to make this a trail hub that is accessible to all types of sport,” explained Marten DeVlieger, a member of Trail 77 in a video presentation presented to council.
In total, the group was seeking approval to work on trails located on M.D. of Taber land as well as $5,000 for up to four years for signage and trail development.
Prior, the group was in front of Town of Taber council and was approved for both asks.
Council questioned how many kilometres of trail was already currently available and how some of the trails and infrastructure was put in place prior.
“There is about 15 kilometres of single track there right now,” answered Steve Van Geest, president of Trail 77.
“The park right near the M.D. Park, that was from bikers. Kids were out there and building it themselves,” added DeVlieger.
A big push from the group is to install signs to alert hikers and bikers of the challenge each trail presents.
“A lot of the stuff is there but some of the hills, you come over and (people) don’t know what’s there so it needs to be made safe. It’s happening already so we need to make this better,” continued DeVlieger.
“It puts the onus on the individual,” added Van Geest.
With an ask of $5,000 from both the town and M.D., the group explained where that money would be going.
As they have two major needs in improving trail infrastructure and installing more signs, a large chunk of money would be going towards both of those initiatives.
“The first two years of our budget is mostly going to signage. I think there is $3,000 going this year to signage and then we want to build some boardwalks over wet areas,” said Van Geest.
Volunteers will be used for work on the trails, according to the group, and they are more than confident they will have an appropriate amount of workers to get things completed.
“I think with the group we have, even with the board members, a lot of that can be done even if this didn’t grow. We could do a lot of work just within the main group that we have right now. We do hope to get some more members,” stated Van Geest.
“The work being done out there by volunteers has made it safer. It has also got lots of interest. I don’t think you can go out there very often and not have people out on the trails,” added Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
Those wanting to support and join the group will also be offered memberships.
While no prices have been set, it was explained to council that becoming a member of Trail 77 would bring insurance as well as funding to go towards more trail work.
“Some of that money will go into insurance and some will go into trail development,” continued Van Geest.
While members would have insurance, plenty of non-members would also be free to use trails within the M.D.
Council asked about liability on their side if something was to happen.
“Because it is M.D. land, there will always be that risk of liability,” answered CAO Arlos Crofts.
With spring on the horizon, council asked about the group’s timeline for starting their work and if they would be in favour of in-kind work.
“For signage, we need to get moving because it is already happening,” replied DeVlieger.
“We talked about (in-kind work). There could potentially be sign installation,” answered Van Geest.
The group was adamant they wouldn’t start their work until they received approval from the M.D., but they did want to get signage up this year.
A motion was carried to have a request for decision with options moving forward regarding Trail 77’s ask and to have it presented at the next council meeting.