GREAT TRAIL - Paul Pettypiece, president of the Central Alberta Regional Trail Society, presented The Great Trail to Red Deerians at Bower Ponds on Saturday. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

Celebrating Red Deer’s leg of The Great Trail system

Event took place at Bower Ponds on Saturday

The Central Alberta Regional Trail Society (CARTS) held a celebration last weekend at the Trans Canada Trail Pavilion at Bower Ponds to celebrate The Great Trail, which has recently been connected across Canada.

Paul Pettypiece, president of CARTS, spoke about the significance of marking this occasion.

“This is one of about 200 events scheduled across Canada to celebrate The Great Trail, which was formerly called the Trans Canada Trail,” he said. “In this particular case, we are also celebrating the Red Deer trail system and the trails completed in Central Alberta. We are also showing where the temporary connections are located until the off-road trails are completed within the next few years.”

CARTS is an organization, which has been instrumental to ensuring that Central Alberta, has some of the best trails in the country.

“CARTS is a coordinating society that works with all the municipalities in Central Alberta to try and make sure everyone is on the same page when they are trying to connect to become part of The Great Trail,” Pettypiece said. “We aren’t trail builders ourselves – we work strictly with the municipalities and give them whatever assistance they need to coordinate their systems.”

CARTS, according to Pettypiece, is run by the kindness of those who use and enjoy the trails.

“CARTS is a volunteer organization and there are two types of members,” he explained. “Every municipality that is a member has a representative on CARTS and then there are at-large volunteers and they give their time freely because they are passionate about ensuring there is a connected and eventually totally completed Trans Canada Trail system.”

He added, “We also help coordinate other trails, for example, we eventually want to see a trail between Red Deer and Sylvan Lake.”

Pettypiece noted the standard of the Waskasoo Trail system is unique in Canada.

“The standard of trails differs greatly across Canada: some of them are gravel trails; some of them are dirt trails; some of them are multi use; others like here are strictly non-motorized use,” he said. There is a variety of types of trails. One of the things Red Deer has done particularly well is every trail connects to another trail. We want to see that more.”

The Great Trail is connected in part by highways and roadways, something the Great Trail will eventually be rid of.

“Most of the trails that need to be done now are rural trails,” Pettypiece said. “Most of the urban municipalities have completed their trails. The rural connections are more challenging because they are longer trails, they are less populated and they are expensive. It is a matter of getting the funding and getting the will of the rural municipalities to complete those sections.”

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, who attended The Great Trail Celebration, is proud of the City’s ongoing commitment to the Waskasoo Trail system and The Great Trail.

“One of the greatest sources of pride for Red Deerians is the fact that we have over 120 kilometres in our linear park system,” she said. “We were one of the first Albertan communities to participate in the Trans Canada Trail network. For Canada 150, that network has been renamed as The Great Trail. The purpose of The Great Trail is to unite Canadians from coast to coast to coast. There are over 200 cities celebrating today and we are very proud that Red Deer is a part of this national movement.”

Veer added the eventual Canada 150 Square in Capstone at Riverlands will eventually be a park node that will connect to The Great Trail.

She added, “The Central Alberta Regional Trail Society is a local, regional effort and their mandate is to promote trail expansion, trail maintenance and trail use for all people in Central Alberta. They have been great ambassadors for The Great Trail and ensuring that Red Deer remains in the national effort. We are thankful for their effort.”

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com