People driving along Highway 5 south of Valemount may have noticed a new wire and post fence along Cedarside Regional Park.

The Goat has not received a response to repeated requests from the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George about their plans for the park, but the Regional Parks Plan 2010-2020 does spell out some plans and priorities for the District’s Regional Parks, as well as guidelines and general time frames for the Regional Parks System over 10 years.

For Cedarside Park, the plan indicates three “high priority” park development projects: fencing and reforestation; steep bank restoration; and highway directional signs. High priority projects in the plan are scheduled for completion within 1-5 years, or by 2015. Medium priorities are intended to be completed in the 6-10 year range (by 2020). Low priorities are given a 10-year timeframe, or may wait until after 2020, depending on time and resources. The plan notes that research and development of a plan for improving water quality in Cranberry Lake is a low priority.

The new fence at Cedarside Park appears to be part of the fencing and reforestation project. The plan describes the project as the installation of a fence to direct vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the area recently cleared for pine beetle kill; developing and implementing a reforestation plan for the cleared area; and installing an interpretive sign explaining the reforestation activities and the need to protect the area.

The new fence is only along the highway side and a short stretch into the park along the driveway. There doesn’t appear to be any footpaths, or signs of vehicle traffic into the park from that direction, except for the driveway, and no current signs of reforestation.

Restoration of the steep bank where people access Cranberry Lake involves installing a barrier to prevent park users from accessing the beach via the eroded bank trail, restoration of the bank with vegetation and irrigation to ensure the plants survive for the first 2-3 years, installing interpretive signage for the barrier and restoration, and installing more prominent signs to direct users to the appropriate trail access. There are currently concrete barriers installed part way down the steep bank, which appear to prevent more erosion of the bank and prevent vehicle traffic, but they do not prevent people walking down the bank. The third High priority project is to install highway signs at 200m and or 400m before the park entrance.

George Hicks Regional Park near the primary salmon viewing area along Hwy 5 in Valemount has three medium priority projects defined: adding interpretive signage; completing construction of a trail connection between the park and visitor’s centre, and considering extending the bridge/trail on the north side of Swift Creek; and constructing a second salmon viewing area with interpretive signage and shelter.

Koeneman Park, just outside of McBride, also has three high priority projects defined: installing highway signage at 200m and/or 400m before the park entrance; continuing consultation with the community on the fate of Koeneman House; and developing and implementing a plan to reinstate the river bank and riparian vegetation where slumping is occurring. There are also two medium priority projects defined for Koeneman: working with the Village of McBride to develop trail connections to the Park; and investigating the requirements for installing a boat launch with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

The Parks Plan states that the main goals of the Regional District are to provide residents of (and visitors to) the region with a range of outdoor recreation day-use opportunities which are representative of the region’s natural environment, recreation and heritage resources; and to create and/or complete trail-based linkages among regional, provincial and municipal park and trail systems. It states that the Regional District has two primary roles: to identify, acquire, establish, develop, operate and maintain Regional Parks under the Regional Parks Bylaw; and to coordinate with and support the efforts of other levels of government and community organizations in establishing, developing and maintaining other types of parks, recreational areas and open spaces that address goals and objectives similar to the Regional Parks System.

The Village of Valemount is under contract with the Regional District for maintenance of both Cedarside and George Hicks, but all project work on the parks is the responsibility of the Regional District. Koeneman is maintained by the Regional District.

By: Korie Marshall