By Jensen, Randy on October 15, 2020.
The City of Lethbridge wants all residents to take part in an online survey to determine how the river valley area will balance recreation and conservation going forward into the next generation.
“We are going to have a public engagement survey that is going to be distributed via Canada Post this week,” explains City of Lethbridge parks planning manager Chris Witkowski. “A postcard is going to be mailed to every household in the city. Residents can go to getinvolvedlethbridge.ca to the River Valley Engagement Project, and they can type in their access code (on the postcard) to take part in the 10- to 15-minute survey on use of the river valley.
“What we are trying to determine,” he adds, “is what people use the river valley for now? What are some of the concerns they have over the river valley? What are some practices they’d like to see as we start to plan moving forward?”
Witkowski says the river valley area is at a crossroads of sorts as Lethbridge’s increasing population puts new pressures on the valley’s natural ecology. With more recreation users expected in the coming years, Witkowski feels now is a good time to take stock and put sustainable planning in place.
“There is a lot of recreational use happening in the river valley,” he says. “We are not trying to restrict or eliminate any recreation, but we also want to make sure we’re also balancing that with preservation of our natural resources.”
Witkowski acknowledges this more robust and direct public engagement campaign comes out of lessons learned with the Six Mile Coulee trail system debate earlier this summer which roused a lot of anger among recreation users, and which eventually led to city council reversing course on the planned trail enhancements it had approved just a few months before.
“That’s the whole point to doing this engagement,” Witkowski confirms. “The Six Mile Coulee pathway definitely ran into some opposition, and I think city council recognized there had to be a little more engagement and effort put into the planning. So that’s what we are doing right now: we are trying to find out what residents want to see down there.”
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