A controversial Lethbridge pathway project has been cancelled by city council, despite previous approval for a $1.75-million update in the city’s river valley.
A motion to cancel the Pathway 24 project was raised on June 1, by Coun. Blaine Hyggen, following significant public backlash surrounding what was going to be a stretch of shale pathway in a popular coulee mountain biking area.
The motion was postponed two weeks ago, but when it came back before council on Monday, it was unanimously approved.
The cancellation will save the city $1.75 million, but the cash already invested in the project will be a loss.
“I wish we could have stopped this sooner, when it came forward here a few months back,” Hyggen said.
“$135,000 is spent to date, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.”
At the meeting two weeks ago, Hyggen said that he hadn’t heard a single public comment in favour of the project.
“I guess it comes down to, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Hyggen said. “Leaving it status quo is what they have always enjoyed, and it’s been a great pathway for the use of many, and going forward, I think that’s the way it should continue.”
The Pathway 24 project was an attempt to make the Six Mile Coulee area more accessible, but those that frequent the area say that isn’t the issue.
“It is still very accessible down there if people have a desire to get down there, people just need to know about it,” said Bryce Nugent, who organized a petition in opposition to the project last week.
“I don’t think it needed to have a shale pathway built to expose it to users, people just need to know about it — it needs proper signage.”
Nugent’s petition garnered more than 2,100 signatures in three days; a group of names that he says was representative of all the different groups that spend time in Six Mile Coulee.
Hyggen’s motion required a 6-3 vote to pass, but it went through unanimously on Monday. Nugent said the decision is a huge win for the area.
“They definitely took it into consideration and I think they made the right choice,” he said. “I think we’ll look back and be grateful everyone made this choice.”
With the approval of the resolution, city manager Craig Dalton has now been directed to consult with local groups that utilize the coulees to discuss a strategy to improve the river valley area moving forward.
Dalton, along with community members, will present findings and suggestions to council no later than Oct. 31, 2020.