By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on February 13, 2024.
The MPE Link Pathway recreational project that will connect Coaldale to Lethbridge has received a major financial boost.
During a ceremony Saturday at the Coaldale Civic Square atrium, MLA Grant Hunter, on behalf of Minister Tanya Fir and the Government of Alberta, presented the Link Pathway committee with a $1 million grant from the Community Facility Enhancement Program toward the completion of the 15-kilometre pathway.
Hunter said the provincial government recognizes the importance of these types of projects.
“I just think that it’s going to be fantastic and so do they,” said Hunter. “That’s why we got the money here today. This is a good project for this area. Any time you can actually get people out walking and cycling and getting some exercise, that’s always a good thing to do. It’s the best health care you can get.”
Hunter is also excited that the path will go through agricultural land.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t really recognize the value of farmland and irrigated land and this will kind of showcase that for them. For young people, young families, they can go out there and they can see what a pivot looks like and what an irrigation canal looks like and that’s great.”
The funds will allow the completion of Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project, which comprises the Hwy 512 underpass to Range Road 20-4.
“The fact that we were able to get this large CFEP grant for a million dollars will really let us hit the ground running this spring,” said Coaldale mayor Jack Van Rijn.
George Lohues, St. Mary Regional Irrigation District board chairman, said the district is doing something it hasn’t done before by allowing the pathway on its right of way.
“As a board member for the Pathway, after 10 years of hard work, it’s an amazing day for us,” said Lohues. “It’s a day that makes the pathway look very real, especially being able to tender the crossing of Hwy 512. It’s a large piece of infrastructure and it’s just a great day when you know that it’s absolutely going to happen now. There’s no stopping this pathway.”
A news release notes the pathway will allow a safe and accessible route for pedestrians, cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, and will promote active living, boost tourism, and foster a deeper connection between residents and their surroundings.
“Importantly, the pathway winds through pristine irrigated croplands in Southern Alberta, allowing pathway users to experience rural Alberta like never before and providing groups like Corteva the chance to educate the public with interpretive signage along the way.”