By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
A generous donation has helped the LINK Regional Pathway stride forward to completion.
Local philanthropist Cor Van Raay has donated $1 million to the pathway.
“I was an avid biker for many years,” said Van Raay. “I kept fit and active, cycling many miles across Canada, Cuba, New Zealand and Europe. However, my favourite spot to cycle was right here at home, riding through the prairie landscape of southern Alberta. I was excited when I heard about the hard work the LINK Pathway group has been doing to make an accessible pathway in our backyard.”
Henry Doeve, chair of the LINK Pathway Committee, said words cannot describe how he felt about the donation, which makes the project a reality and allows the committee to start paving the entire 15-km pathway from the Town of Coaldale to the City of Lethbridge.
“It allows the society to complete the pathway, complete the link I guess, if you will, with a paved pathway from Lethbridge to the Town of Coaldale,” said Doeve. “It’s hard to express, I guess, but it’s the conglomeration of a lot of time, working with all our partners, the Town of Coaldale, Lethbridge County, City of Lethbridge and SMRID. It’s just been a lot of fun all along the way, and this just caps that.”
In recognition of Van Raay’s donation, the pathway is being renamed the Cor Van Raay LINK Pathway.
The initial construction of the path’s base and surfacing, which will be done by Dennis Dirtworx, will be starting this spring, along with fundraising efforts towards raising the final $1 million for construction of the many amenities along the Cor Van Raay LINK Pathway. Some of the amenities included in the project are picnic areas, bench seating, solar-powered lighting, agricultural education story boards and interpretive display opportunities.
“The Cor Van Raay donation really makes this a reality,” said Doeve.
“(The Pathway Committee is) excited for the people, we’re excited for the communities in this area to have a pathway that will connect the two communities.”
Once the pathway is completed, it will connect Henderson Lake in Lethbridge to the Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, running through Lethbridge County – along the SMRID irrigation canal for approximately 15 kilometres, and act as a safe alternative to riding or walking along the highways in the county.
The pathway dates back to July 2016, when the idea for a pathway – that would link Coaldale and Lethbridge by a multi-use walking and cycling trail through Lethbridge County along the banks of the SMRID south lateral – was first discussed. The idea received unanimous support from the SMRID, Lethbridge County, the Town of Coaldale and the City of Lethbridge, who also provided financial and in-kind contributions and support towards the project.
The pathway committee also received a lot of community support from the start, with Alvin Fritz Architect Inc., MPE Engineering and Edwards Land providing technical support, Dennis Dirt Works has pledged and is currently waiting to provide the earthwork for the laying of the asphalt and Volker Stevin has agreed to work with the committee to install the 512 crossing and had brokered the box culvert that will be used for the Highway 512 crossing.
“It is a real community engagement project,” said Doeve. “What’s exciting is the people of southern Alberta, the residents of this area can commute in a safe manner off highway through the country from Coaldale to Lethbridge without the danger of traffic.
“I’m excited for those that are going to use the pathway, that’s what I think. At the end of the day, that was the goal all along, to provide that for the people of southern Alberta.”
For more information on the project, visit http://www.linkpathway.org.