Dozens of St. Albert residents turned out last week to listen, learn and weigh in on an update to the Red Willow Park West master plan.
The Feb. 27 open house, held at the St. Albert Kinsmen Banquet Centre, drew youth, residents and frequent users of St. Albert’s trail system to the first stage of public consultation for the master plan update.
Margo Brenneis, parks planning specialist with the city, said the plan update will look at the portion west of the trestle bridge along the Sturgeon River, along Big Lake and up to Carrot Creek.
“What we want to do is continue the great Red Willow Park trail system that we have right now into the future,” she said.
The plan was last updated in 2003. Randy Heaps, senior landscape architect for ISL Engineering, told residents during the open house that the city thinks it is important to keep the overarching vision, guiding principles and objectives from that 2003 plan in place for the update.
Residents were invited to offer their opinions on conceptual amenities for Red Willow Park West. Some proposed concepts include picnic areas, canoe access, viewpoints and trail or park gateways.
“These are very preliminary concepts, so (we) plan to take your feedback today and begin to refine those, make changes, make additions to them, add another layer of detail,” Heaps explained. A more detailed map would be made public in May or June for further public consultation.
Olivia deBourcier, Sisan Fregene and Martin Rudolf, all members of St. Albert’s recently established youth committee, attended the event. The trio was generally supportive of the suggestions from the city.
deBourcier, who is currently undertaking post-secondary studies in environmental science, said she was interested to learn how hydrology and environmental questions were shaping the conversation.
One of deBourcier’s concerns is the negative impact increased activity along the trail system might have on those wetlands as runoff from the trails hits the ecosystem.
“I’m happy to see that they seem to be looking at the ecological effects this plan might have, especially since there is a lot of development happening in and around the wetlands, which are really unique,” she said.
Rudolf said he’s happy to see the trail extension will allow trail users to get closer to Big Lake than before, and added that a portion of the trail extending north would help to open up an entirely new area of St. Albert.
“It’ll be nice to have that extended part. I’ve actually never seen this part of St. Albert,” he said.
The city is currently running a survey on the master plan.