Two local politicians east of Calgary are considering the possibility of connecting their communities with an extended bicycle/pedestrian path.
While a key stakeholder argues this is not feasible, Chestermere Mayor Jeff Colvin said the development of a cycle route between the lakeside town and the neighboring hamlet of Langdon in the east of Rocky View County would have many advantages. The two communities are approximately 15 kilometers apart and many residents already visit the neighboring community for work, school, shopping or recreation.
“It seems like a synergy opportunity,” Colvin said. “Langdon, I don’t know if you would call it our town or sister town, but it’s very close.”
Colvin noted that there is already a trail between Chestermere and Calgary in the form of a trail that runs alongside the Western Irrigation District (WID) irrigation canal. The 20 kilometer trail winds from the southwest corner of Chestermere Lake to central Calgary.
He said the most logical way to link Chestermere with the county hamlet of Rocky View would simply be to extend the existing WID footpath further east towards Langdon and Dalemead. An advantage of this solution, he added, is that the trail would not put users at risk of collision with vehicles.
“It’s so nice not to put it next to a road,” he said. “Making a trail through a farmer’s field is probably not usually done. We are really lucky that the WID channel is here and does just that.
“I think it’s an incredible idea.”
However, when contacted for comment, WID representatives claimed the idea of extending its route east towards Langdon was not feasible.
“It comes down to safety and accountability,” read an emailed statement from Sean Mascaluk, chief executive of WID.
“The banks of the WID canal are private property and the canals must continue to operate for irrigation.”
For now, Colvin acknowledges that’s all the business is – an idea. He said it’s not all confirmed how much a trail will cost, when it will be built and other such details. However, he said there is plenty of evidence as to why it should be doable.
Inter-municipal bike lanes have recently begun to spread throughout Alberta. The 22 kilometer Legacy Trail linking Banff and Canmore is a very popular amenity, while the three kilometer Friendship Trail has also brought people together between the neighboring towns of Turner Valley and Black Diamond.
More locally, the Meadowlark Trail Society has been working since 2018 to develop and install a 17 kilometer trail between Irricana and Beiseker. This trail is expected to open later this year.
On the west side of the county, the Rotary Club of Cochrane and other concerned community organizations are raising funds to build a trail that connects Calgary and Cochrane. And Airdrie City Council approved funding for a feasibility study last year to determine whether or not a trail could be built from Airdrie to Calgary.
Colvin thinks Langdon and Chestermere might one day share similar gear. He mentioned that he had already broached the idea with Rocky View County Division 7 (Langdon) Councilor Al Schule to get the ball rolling.
Colvin noted that Chestermere Council has also authorized staff to continue these inter-municipal discussions and investigate potential grant opportunities that could help fund the project.
“We don’t expect it to be something that can’t be accomplished,” he said.
Schule confirmed he had heard of the idea from Colvin and another Chestermere councillor. He agreed that a recreational pathway would be a beneficial amenity for residents of Chestermere and Langdon.
“They are the ones who have spoken about it and I expect them to lead the way or let me know what kind of help they need,” he said. “I will try to call them in the next few days to find out where they are and what support they need from me.”