By: Korie Marshall

The Valemount Community Forest has completed upgrades to the Westridge Road Forest Service Road, giving better access to a recreation trail and better preserving the road for possible future use.

Craig Pryor, manager of the community forest, says the road has been upgraded from the beginning of the mainline near Highway 5 to about 14.5 kilometers, where the Mount Trudeau recreation trail begins. He says they are also planning to brush that section sometime later this year, depending on financial help from other road users.

A further six kilometers or so from the trail head to the McLennan River has been lightly water barred to protect from further erosion. Pryor explains a water bar is a small shallow ditch across the road meant to catch water and direct it off the road.

“You can drive through them with a 4×4 pick-up,” says Pryor. He says the community forest took over maintenance of that section of the road from the provincial government, who brushed that section of the road in late 2014 as part of the take-over deal.

This area falls entirely inside of the Valemount Community Forest’s operating area, says Pryor. He says there is great potential in the area in the future, and improved access now is more cost effective in the long run, which is one of the reasons for the upgrade now. The area is also heavily used for recreation in all seasons, which is important to the community, and the road was starting to deteriorate to a point where a grader could not operate. Without a grader being able to access the road, nothing bigger than a pick-up truck could use the road. That could be a big problem in the event of an accident, fire or environmental problem, says Pryor. And the proponents of the Valemount Glacier Destinations resort have also targeted the area for their development and may need to use the road in the future.