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Muskeg Creek mountain bike trail under consideration

Group exploring grant opportunities to hire engineering firm for preliminary design
2019-08-08 Mountain bike
File photo

ATHABASCA – The momentum behind a proposal to see a professionally-designed mountain bike trail through the Muskeg Creek Trail system is growing, with an upcoming meeting on how to move forward scheduled for next week. 

Town of Athabasca Coun. Jon LeMessurier gave councillors an update following a recent meeting of the Friends of Muskeg Creek Trails group he attended where the subject of the mountain bike trail was discussed among attendees. 

“It was amazing to see the amount of community support there of all ages. A lot of kids as well,” LeMessurier said. “It's a proposal for a mountain bike trail, a single-track cross-country trail within the Muskeg Creek Trail system.”  

He clarified these trails would be separate from the walking trails that currently exist, but they may intersect in places. These are much narrower trails. The sport is gaining in popularity in other areas of the province and “it's a way to attract more people to our community and another reason for people to stay in our community,” he said. 

Overall, it’s a big project, and while figures and finances are far from solid at this early stage, it will be important to opt for a professional designer to make sure sustainability, environmental impact and safety considerations are at the forefront. Sightlines, for instance, will be important to make sure walkers and bikers are visible when trails intersect, he said. 

Very rough cost estimates at this point see costs of $10,000 to $98,000 just for the initial design, while the actual construction would likely range from $250,000 to more than $400,000. There is a large list of grants the group plans to apply for. 

“This is a huge project,” said LeMessurier. “They had a big list of probably 10 to 15 different grants that they can apply for, or that we as a municipality can help them with. For funding we talked about casinos as options, large corporations, GoFundMe pages.” 

The group also decided to reach out to Hinton to see how they went about fundraising for a similar trail in that town.  

Mayor Rob Balay noted a recent attempt to secure a grant for the preliminary work was rejected, but the cost came in between $70,000 and $90,000. He suggested the group refer to that grant application, as it was quite detailed and may provide some guidance. 

“I also mentioned how this is a great idea for our community, but that was the first time going into that meeting that I heard about it,” added LeMessurier. “So, I talked about how this has got to be a community type thing to be able to raise that type of money and we need to get the word out to make sure that the community is even interested. I think it's a great opportunity, but it's definitely something that's going to take time and a lot of grants.” 

The group will meet again May 1.

Chris Zwick

About the Author: Chris Zwick

Athabasca Advocate editor
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