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Trails committee hoping Athabasca County donation will fix ATV damage

County donating 10 trailers of elimination-grade gravel to help repair Athabasca Landing Trail

ATHABASCA – Motorized vehicle usage continues to be a problem for sections Athabasca Landing Trail (ALT) near Colinton which have been damaged by locals using them as an ATV detour while the bridge is out.

“There’s been some degrading of the trail caused by a detour people have chosen to take,” said Coun. Tracy Holland, who sits on the ALT steering committee as well as the Athabasca Recreational Trails Association, who made the request. “It’s not a legal detour, but that’s what people have chosen to do since (the Colinton bridge) is out. Because of that, the work that was done to build the trail in 2014, those certain areas are being impacted. It’s a very expensive fix if we don’t get on top of it now.”

The Athabasca Landing Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail, and while it isn’t finished yet, it’s envisioned as a continuous, non-motorized trail that will run from Fort Saskatchewan to Athabasca. Holland said the trails were constructed with activities like hiking, horseback riding, and cross country skiing in mind, but aren't sturdy enough to handle the damage caused by heavier vehicles like quads. As a result, parts of the liner are being dug up and exposed to the elements.

Athabasca County will be donating up to 10 loads — about 25 yards each — of elimination-grade gravel from its gravel pits to the trail committee. The association had originally asked for a single load of gravel, but councillors opted to increase the amount so it could all be handled at once, giving the trail more flexibility. The trail association will be handling the labour which will occur on the section of trail between Colinton and Athabasca.

“The elimination that they’re looking for is an excellent material to place in there,” said Holland. “It’s about 1.3 kilometres in from the bridge, and they’re able to go in there and fix it with the equipment they have, they just need the material to do it.”

Athabasca County infrastructure director Jocelyn Whaley said the cost for the loads of gravel would be $1,136 for three, or $382 a load, which would cover the transportation to get the gravel to the staging site. The costs of the gravel itself was minimal, according to Whaley.

“If we have a really wet season, and they end up taking only three loads this spring, it doesn’t have to come back to council for approval later,” said Coun. Ashtin Anderson. “They can work with administration to get whatever they need. It seems reasonable to me, given that we’re repairing damage and trying to maintain the trail. If they’re out there, I would them to have access to the materials they need.”

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