June 19th, 2024

Cor Van Raay pathway facing needless obstacles


By Lethbridge Herald on February 9, 2023.

Editor: 

The Cor Van Raay Link Pathway is a planned multi-use pathway connecting Lethbridge and Coaldale.

I understand it is being funded by provincial grants and private donors. Although the project has received full support from both the City of Lethbridge and the Town of Coaldale, there are a small number of property owners and their representatives from Lethbridge County that threaten to prevent the construction of a complete pathway. 

The pathway organization have already spent a considerable amount of their time and money accommodating these individuals, including surveying property owners and agreeing to build fences, berms, plant trees, and move picnic shelters. 

If you read the survey results available on the link pathway website, you will appreciate the project has responded well to the usual fear-of-change surrogates coming from the vocal minority. 

Let’s take a step back. We have plans for an aesthetically-pleasing, non-intrusive, pathway that would protect a variety of cyclists and pedestrians from deadly interactions with highway traffic. This pathway would be free to use by anyone whether recreationally, educationally or as an alternative to their motor vehicle commute. 

The economic benefits alone from creating this as a destination attraction should have the local municipalities lining up to fund this (which they have in part), but this is being provided at no cost to the county taxpayer. 

Despite the clear public benefits, we have a system that allows a handful of property owners and county councillors enough power to prevent the completion of this pathway. 

I would challenge the disproportionate power we are giving a minority of county residents over this decision, and I do believe all reasonable concerns have been addressed. As a reminder, the resistant property owners do not own the land upon which the pathway will be built, but also, there is consistent evidence that building a bike path increases the property value of those adjacent (and does not increase crime)!

Ideally essential public infrastructure projects like this would not require the hurdle of county approval, but they do. 

It is my understanding that the Lethbridge County is making a final decision on this at their council meeting on March 2. If they reject the proposal, only Phase 1 of the pathway will be built, and after years of hard work by the pathway organization and supporters, southern Alberta will have half a pathway starting in Coaldale and ending in the middle of the jail road (highway 512). It will not come close to the complete-path experience. 

For one, it will be accessible only to those living in Coaldale and visitors with the means/interest to transport themselves and their bikes to the trailhead. More significantly, it will completely fail as a safe connection between Coaldale and Lethbridge as riders will still need to brave the narrow highway. 

An incomplete path would not be entirely devoid of recreational opportunities, however; if you were to bring your binoculars to the path terminus, you could peer across the highway and potentially catch a glimpse of a real NIMBY in their native habitat of Vista Meadows. 

I urge the County council members to recognize the opportunity, and responsibility, they have to defend this invaluable piece of public infrastructure.

Aaron Banman

Lethbridge

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Citi Zen

If this fails, I would hope the Cor Van Raay family would file a claim against the County for the funds lost to this.