Located on the outskirts of Wetaskiwin, just west of Adams Pontiac along 56 Avenue is a peaceful outdoor setting, By-the-Lake Park. This park offers a diverse array of recreational opportunities and events such as weddings, birthday parties, dances, reunions and meetings in the Hall, hiking on the trails, picking saskatoons, observing wildlife and waterfowl, fishing, having a coffee on a picnic bench, photography, picking mushrooms, tobogganing, skating and many other family and friend activities.
The 2.8 km trail system surrounding the natural eco systems at By-The-Lake Park has provided City residents with many years of enjoyment where they can take a walk ‘in the country’ and gain an appreciation for the natural environment adjacent to an urban setting. However, access to the back part of the trail was limited following a heavy rain, or in the spring as areas became flooded and muddy.
In the spring of 2012, the City took action and installed culverts to prevent erosion of the trails and filled the mudholes and puddles with gravel. In the fall of 2013 the gravel section was upgraded by widening and building up the trail. The City spent approximately $15,000 to $20,000 dollars on the upgrade. As explained by Bob Stauth, Public Works Manager at City of Wetaskiwin, “The benefits of having a functional path for our users are obvious. The upgrade is important to maintaining access to the resources without damage to the environment and risking safety.”
The original plan was to widen and pave the entire 2.8 km of trail to a 3M width for an estimated cost of $498,000. However, the City could only secure funding totalling $241K, so the project was scaled back to improvements on the gravel section. The remainder of the trail is paved, but not to the 3M width.
On June 11, 2012, City Council approved providing the Wetaskiwin Knights of Columbus Club with a letter of support for their CFEP (Community Facility Enhancement Program) grant application for funding trail improvements at By-the-Lake Park. The grant application was for $125,000, and if the grant was approved, the City would be required to match the $125,000 for the project.
On August 6th, 2013, George Ollenberger and Tom Bukkems representing the Wetaskiwin Knights of Columbus Club officially presented a cheque for $117,759 to the City of Wetaskiwin to begin the project.
In August, 2014, the trail has been paved, and local residents of all ages are using and enjoying the opportunity to connect with nature. The work makes it safer and easier to observe and experience the natural and man-made biological diversity offered by the park. Visitors have easier access to the bountiful species of birds and diverse types of vegetation including grasses, shrubs and trees, The lake, stocked with trout, also supports numerous other water-supported organisms living in the lake and adjacent marshland. Self-directed interpretive signs provide nature enthusiasts with of the various plants and wildlife that call an informative description the area home.
Knights are Catholic men, 18 years of age and older, who are committed to making their community a better place, while supporting their Church. Being a Knight is more than camaraderie; it is being involved with your community, supporting your local Catholic Church, enhancing your own faith and it is about protecting and enhancing your family life.
Pictured: Rene Griffith and Lynn Wagan paving their way on the new trail surrounding By-The-Lake-Park. Photo by Barry McDonald