About one third of Edmonton’s river valley trails are only considered to be in fair or poor condition. That’s according to a report going to the Community and Public Services Committee Monday.
The report looks at the current condition of the city’s trail system as well as causes of degradation. It examined improved trails, which have surface treatment such as concrete or asphalt. There are more than 160 kilometres of improved trails in Edmonton.
The report found that while 58 per cent of improved trails were either very good or good, 23 per cent were ranked as fair, eight per cent were ranked poor or very poor while 11 per cent were unknown.
The assessment of poor or very poor means there is distress on the trail, potholes, major cracking or displacement while fair means there is minor surface unevenness or displacement.
“You can’t build them and ignore them. You have to build them, monitor them and repair them as necessary,” Coun. Scott McKeen, who sits on the committee which will go over the report, said.
The report found the trail network has experienced erosion, instability and exposure to storms and flooding. At the same time, the city has experienced a growth in population and in the popularity of outdoor recreational activities as well as in the use of alternative modes of transportation.
McKeen said the city needs to invest more in the network of trails.
“Those aren’t sexy dollars to spend,” he said. “I think with the river valley trails, we just have to bite the bullet and spend the money to maintain them.”
“I think it’s money well spent because the river valley and the river valley trails are one of the highest assets we have in the city. It’s really important to people and a spectacular asset to Edmonton.”
Tom Golub either walks or bikes in the river valley three to five times a week and has seen conditions deteriorate.
“The city trails – they’ve slumped,” he said. “It’s totally walkable and rideable. There [are] dangerous bits. It’s quite narrow, gets icy and stuff like that.
“[The city has a lot] of road projects. They’re also putting in bike lanes. It might, in the grand scheme, be more important but it sure would be nice if they invested some money in it at some point.”
Ann Marie Long walks her dogs and runs in the river valley three to four times a week. She has noticed the lack of maintenance.
“This is a trail really close to my house. I’ve been running this for years, probably 35 years, I’m sad they’re not upkeeping it,” she said.
“I think it’s sad because people use it a lot. It’s a beautiful river valley. I think there should be some more money put into upkeep.”
There are currently 11.3 kilometres of closed improved trails due to flooding, undercutting of banks, slumping, erosion or instability.
The city has an annual operating budget of $1 million to maintain, inspect and repair the Whitemud Creek Ravine and river valley trail system.
Annually, from 2015 to 2018, the city has a capital budget of $7.5 million for parkland conservation and rehabilitation, landslide and erosion repair as well as creek bed erosion and stability.
McKeen said shifting more money to maintain and repair the trails will be a consideration as the city prepares its next budget.
“I certainly would support spending the money to get our river valley trails up to a really good level,” he said. “That’s why you would take a hard look at the budget and see if you can find some savings in other areas. But we have other demands that we probably don’t know about yet and that is going to be one of them.”