WHEREAS trails provide an important mode of active transportation for Alberta citizens both within and among our communities and regions, enabling walking and the use of bicycles and other active forms of transportation on safe routes as an alternative to motor vehicles;AND WHEREAS the use of trails promotes health and well being among our citizens, providing an opportunity for inexpensive, easily accessible all season physical activity and enjoyment;AND WHEREAS trails promote tourism and economic benefit for communities along regional trail systems:AND WHEREAS trails promote environmental education and awareness among the users of the trails systems;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourage the Government of Alberta to:1) Recognize trails as an important part of the local and provincial transportation infrastructure and develop, in conjunction with municipalities, a policy framework that will facilitate and encourage the development of trails networks in a local, regional and provincial context.2) Provide the financial tools and resources to municipalities to enable the development and continued operation of these trails.
Trails serve as transportation corridors that allow Albertans to safely choose active modes of transportation such as walking, cycling, wheel chairing, in-line skating and skiing. Active transportation results in a cleaner environment and improved personal health, a focus of Alberta’s Healthy Living Strategy. There is a demand for better trail systems within communities and between communities to allow people to safely get from one locale to another. Unfortunately, in many Alberta municipalities, residents who want to cycle or jog from one community to another have no choice other than to use the shoulder on a major highway. Every year Albertans are injured or killed while walking or biking on the side of highways or on the sides of busy municipal roads. Infrastructure that reduces the use of motorized transportation must be built and supported both in municipalities and between municipalities to meet demand. Trails, bicycle lanes on existing roads, trails in highway right-of-ways and urban pedestrian pathways are all proven effective and efficient methods to allow people the opportunity to make healthy, environmentally responsible choices. The availability of government funding many years ago allowed larger urban centres to build extensive trail systems for walking and cycling. Smaller municipalities, with a much smaller tax base, would like to incorporate trails and bike lanes into their infrastructure, but do not have the resources to support these capital projects.Transportation policy needs to include Active Transportation as a component. Some municipalities consider trails as part of their transportation network and policy needs to be in place on a provincial level to consider alternate modes of transportation in overall transportation planning.Albertans donated more than $2.18 million dollars towards the TransCanada Trail – more than any other province, but the provincial government has to date provided very little funding support for this initiative. Donations came from more than 311 Alberta communities. The TransCanada Trail Foundation, a not-for-profit society, can only provide 10 per cent of the costs for building TCT trails. Alberta must build 2100 km of trail to complete the TCT in this province. We currently have 960 kms, or 34 per cent in operation. Volunteer groups are being asked to implement a major capital construction project with limited resources and tools. Examples of provincial government contributions to the TCT Trail to date are as follows: BC- $10 million; Manitoba – $4 million; Ontario -$5 million and Alberta- $ 1 million. Funding support is required to move trails forward in areas of the province where they are supported by residents.Communities in Alberta are looking to trails as a way of connecting their citizens. In Central Alberta, communities from the Town of Penhold to Wetaskiwin, including all the counties, towns and cities along the way, are supporting the construction of the TCT trail. This trail is viewed not just for recreation but as a transportation corridor for people working in one community and living in another. The Ironhorse Trail in northern Alberta is another example of a trail connecting communities.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.