By Trevor Busch
Plans to revitalize the Trout Pond area are currently in the works but procedural issues regarding the presentation of the project raised some concerns with the Taber Recreation Board.
The Trout Pond, located just west of the community, was formerly maintained and stocked with trout as a public recreational amenity. Administration has been working on a plan to revitalize the area and restore it to its full potential. The project has been divided into five phases, based on each component’s level of priority. Phasing will also allow for administration of the project to be specific to each component of it, allowing the town to potentially maximize the amount of grant dollars received.
“Public works and economic development have been working on plans to revitalize the Trout Pond,” said recreation director Aline Holmen, speaking at the rec board’s May 4 regular meeting.
“This has gone to council, but it hadn’t gone to the rec board. We just wanted to bring you up to speed, because it is a recreation project.”
Once completed, the Trout Pond would be refilled and stocked with trout, and a walking trail would surround the pond. The town has proposed establishing a campground with approximately 16 RV stalls and an additional area for tents, with room for expansion if needed. The facility is also expected to include a playground for campground and public use, as well as a dock and beach area. Other amenities will include picnic tables with campfire rings for grilling, and picnic shelters for larger gatherings. The walking trail is intended to include benches for walkers.
Administration has estimated some 2,500 trees will be required to make the park feel “full and well shaded.”
“Basically, this is an enhancement of the walking trail project,” said Mayor Andrew Prokop. “We had discussed the possibility of doing something to enhance that Trout Pond area, including camping possibilities. It’s overdue, and it’s something that we should have here, and it’s only going to enhance the recreational opportunities for our community, and youth specifically.”
Following discussion at their March 27 regular meeting, town council voted unanimously to support all applications for funding to restore the Trout Pond and develop a campground and walking path in partnership with the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA).
The pond will require clean-up before it can be refilled, and administration is working with the ACA to ensure it is remediated to the ACA’s standards. This work will include cleaning up a smaller filter pond and replacing a screen to prevent fish from moving between ponds.
The town is planning to work closely with the TID to fill the ponds, with other proposed work including purchasing pipe (and a flow meter) to bring water to the pond from the nearest TID turnout, the equipment needed for the task, and the water to fill the pond. There will be an annual charge to top up the pond, depending on how much water is lost over time.
Administration is estimating a cost of $45,000 to clean out and fill the pond.
Chair Danielle Hansen questioned why this was the first time the proposed project had been formally presented to the rec board, and whether this would have future implications for the projects and timelines laid down in the town’s Recreation Master Plan.
“We have a Recreation Master Plan that we have created. Where does this fall into it? Because this is a big project, we already have facilities that need maintenance, like our small ice, which is going to be a big project as well. So does this now need to get put within our Recreation Master Plan?”
Prokop reported the Trout Pond revitalization was an extensive outgrowth of the current walking trail project that is in the process of being completed by the Town of Taber.
“The walking trail has been part of the Recreation Master Plan for some time. This is just a continuation, or an enhancement, of what we had talked about through our committee, and it sort of grew from there.”
The ACA will provide the town with free fish for the first year, but it will fall on the town to re-stock the pond annually to ensure sufficient levels. The ACA recommended starting with approximately 3,600 trout, which could present a cost of $10,800 annually for future years. For the first phase of the project, administration is projecting a total cost of $109,209.50. The project has not been budgeted for 2017, so a transfer of funds would be required from reserves if a grant was received that required matching funding. Phase 1 of the project will include re-filling the pond (clean-up and replacing screen), stocking the pond with fish, routing electricity to the site for parking lot and path lighting, installing 10 picnic tables and 10 benches, five garbage cans, a park sign, and a gravel parking lot and walkways.
“The concern that I have is we have user groups that spent time making a Recreation Master Plan, and they’ve told us what their concerns are with the recreational facilities that we already have,” continued Hansen. “It does have a walking path in it, but this is lot more than just a walking path. So how do we not offend users if this gets put ahead before something else that was in the Recreation Master Plan? Because we did spend a lot of time sitting around and doing that plan.”
There have been no funds budgeted for the project, but administration hopes to fund the majority of the project using grants. Prokop indicated that at this stage, the project would not need to take take priority from other projects listed in the Recreation Master Plan, and as it is a ‘living document’, the project could be added at a future date.
“It was just all the sudden this big huge project, and we were like, ‘Wow, we’ve already got a big long list of things on the rec master plan, where did this one come from?’ We were kind of blindsided.”
After discussion, the Taber Recreation Board voted unanimously to accept as information the presentation regarding planned Trout Pond upgrades. Holmen promised to seek direction from CAO Cory Armfelt about the project’s potential inclusion in the Recreation Master Plan.