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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MD holds public meeting regarding proposed Beaver Mines pathway

Proposed pathway is the 6' strip of land marked in orange
MD of Pincher Creek map
Chris Davis

Council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 hosted a public meeting, attended by approximately 10 citizens, on the evening of March 10 to get feedback about a proposed public pathway project in Beaver Mines.  In attendance to observe the meeting were Reeve Brian Hammond and councillors Terry Yagos, Grant McNab, Fred Schoening, and Garry Marchuk.  Marchuk is the councillor for Division 3, which includes Beaver Mines.  Also in attendance were CAO Wendy Kay, Executive Assistant Tara Cryderman, and Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan.


At the entrance to the council chambers, where the meeting was held, was a map outlining a 6' pathway (in orange) 0.22 acres long.  It's located at the north end of Beaver Mines, west of the highways 507 and 774, just south of the location proposed for a new Beaver Mines fire hall.  On one side of the proposed path are houses, on the other a semi-wooded field belonging to a landowner who also currently owns the land proposed for the pathway.

Reeve Hammond thanked everyone for coming and then turned the podium over to CAO Wendy Kay, who explained that there have been discussions with the landowner, and that council heard from a delegation from Beaver Mines (on August 26, 2014) requesting that a pathway be considered.  The plan as envisioned by that delegation wasn't quite the same as what was being presented at this meeting. "Unfortunately, at this point, the offer today that has been presented to council is to donate a six foot piece of property, and in addition to that six feet being donated to the MD the property owner is looking to clear approximately 5 acres of that land, and to have the MD construct a barbwire fence."  Kay said the costs to the MD associated with clearing the land, fencing, surveying, and legal costs were in the $27,000 range.

"We know it's not what some of the residents in Beaver Mines were looking for, but because it was an offer presented to council we have permission from the property owner to bring it to the residents to see if there's any interest and will that six feet provide the opportunity to put a pathway that will serve our purpose out there."

"And this point we're looking for your input, whether it is something you can accomplish and pursue further.  It is the only offer on the table at this point in time."

With that Kay handed the microphone over to  Director of Development and Community Services Roland Milligan for him to answer questions and hear feedback from the citizens in attendance.  The first woman to speak asked if there had been consultation in the community with the citizens of Beaver Mines to find out if the plan as presented was what they wanted "Because I'm not getting that information... "  "I haven't heard the community in a meeting with Garry and our respresentative getting together  to see what would best serve our community.  Am I missing something here?"  "I don't think you are," replied Milligan, who explained  that council had heard from the delegation but the community had not been involved beyond that prior to the public meeting "as far as I know".  The woman read a letter she said was written by another resident that was opposed to the pathway as proposed, expressing concerns about privacy and security issues "particularly with foot traffic behind my property, which is only occupied part time".  "It also seems to be very unnecessary use of tax dollars."

One of the women involved in the delegation that originally brought the idea of a pathway to council explained that she an several other members of the community wanted some way to walk from one end of the community to the other without having to walk alongside the highway.  "I live right on the main drag... it is a concern that there's no way to connect safely to the other end of town."

Anothe man interjected that he didn't see how the strip proposed provided that connection, to which the woman replied that the proposed plan wasn't the plan originally proposed by the delegation.  "It seems like it's  not quite what we're looking for," the man said.  Both agreed that the "loop" plan they had originally presented to council was more to their liking.  Roland Milligan outlined several portions of land in the hamlet that were considered, but said the offer from the landowner had sparked this particular meeting.

"I believe the MD is open to hearing new plans and seeing where that goes," said Milligan.

Several other citizens agreed that what they hoped to see was some kind of large loop, utilizing laneways already in existence on either side of the highway.  At several points during the meeting other possibilities were briefly discussed.  One citizen mentioned that Beaver Mines was the last stop to get good cell phone reception for those driving past it into the forestry or on to Castle Mountain, creating an elevated distracted driving hazard in the community.  Another man, who had been part of the delegation to council last August, said there were approximately 30 letters of support for the idea of a community pathway from hamlet citizens.  Another person said the idea has been brought to council repeatedly for at least the last seven years.  Another man suggested a six foot path next to a barb wire fence could be dangerous.  "I hope this isn't the only discussion we have about this," he added, saying he'd like to see other options explored.

"I think even before we get to that should there not be a majority vote as to a pathway going in, as to just being told a pathway's going in?" asked another man.  "There's no plan to put a pathway in," replied Milligan.  "It's a planning process.  These are the first steps.  Let's check the viability, let's see what the community wants.  And this was driven by some residents of the hamlet.  The MD is just sort of taking some steps, but we haven't really, from any point of view, really gone looking into developing an entire pathway system within the hamlet."

"So engaging the community at this point - a good idea,  let's get people started talking about the idea, where it's going to go."

After more discussion, the meeting drew to a close, with Wendy Kay telling the citizens that their comments would be brought to council (who were also in attendance) for further consideration.

Related story:
Beaver Mines residents propose a community pathway

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