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Lethbridge councillors debate whether to cancel controversial Pathway 24 project

Lethbridge city council debates cancelling approved Pathway 24 project
WATCH ABOVE: Lethbridge city council is considering the cancellation of a controversial pathway expansion on Monday, following significant public backlash to the idea. Danica Ferris has more.

A week after hearing an update on the Pathway 24 project at a community issues committee meeting, Lethbridge city council was once again discussing the already approved coulee upgrade, with Coun. Blaine Hyggen pushing to scrap the project entirely.

Hyggen’s motion came after the project received significant backlash from people who frequent the popular single-track trail in Six Mile Coulee.

“I’ve been engaged with a lot of different community members regarding this,” Hyggen said.

“Usually when we have a presentation you’ll hear both sides — I haven’t received a single person in favour of this.”

The Pathway 24 project was approved on May 23, 2017 as part of the Capital Improvement Program Project D – 11 – Pathway System Connections and Extensions.

READ MORE: Lethbridge cyclists, hikers raise alarm over development of coulee trails

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The section that has created controversy is a three-kilometre stretch with a $1.7-million price tag, where existing single-track dirt trails would be replaced with a limestone track about 1.5 metres wide.

Hyggen’s motion to cancel construction of the project ignited lengthy debate on Monday, which was further complicated by an amendment from Coun. Jeffrey Coffman.

Coffman’s amendment — which was passed in a 6-3 vote — added that if the project is cancelled, city manager Craig Dalton will be directed by council to meet with community groups and come up with new strategies for the area, to be presented to council no later than Oct. 31, 2020.

Mayor Chris Spearman voted alongside Hyggen and Coun. Joe Mauro as the three against the amendment.

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READ MORE: Construction on link pathway connecting Coaldale and Lethbridge will begin in spring

“I thought it was odd to revoke funding for the pathway and then enter into consultation with the community,” Spearman said. “As an amended portion of the motion, my view was that the two should be handled separately.”

Following the passing of the amendment, city council was back to debating whether or not the project should be cancelled.

But a motion to table the amended motion was raised by Coun. Ryan Parker.

“There was confusion expressed around the table, and rather than forcing councillors to vote on something they weren’t ready to vote for, this will give them two weeks to consider their positions,” Spearman said.

The motion to postpone narrowly passed by a vote of 5-4. The tabled motion will be back on city council’s agenda on June 15.