Lethbridge sees drop in park and pathway use in 2022: city

Click to play video: 'Trail counter data finds drop in park, pathway use in Lethbridge'
Trail counter data finds drop in park, pathway use in Lethbridge
While the COVID-19 pandemic got more people outside and exploring their own backyard, the City of Lethbridge says 2022 trail counter data is now showing a decrease in activity. Eloise Therien has more. – Jan 26, 2023

After seeing an exceptional amount of activity over the COVID-19 pandemic, City of Lethbridge data shows a drop in park and pathway usage.

The data, gathered through 22 trail counters and three vehicle counters near river valley access roads, reports an 18 per cent decrease in movement in 2022 over 2021, with around 1.1 million total counts last year.

“So 2020 and 2021 were record highs for us,” explained general manager of parks and cemeteries Blair Richter.

“However, the numbers in 2022 were actually quite similar to our historical averages.”

One of the trail counters in Lethbridge. Courtesy: City of Lethbridge
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Richter presumes that as pandemic restrictions lifted and other activities started up again, people may have become less-inclined to visit parks at the same levels.

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The city is exploring the possibility of adding more counters and new technology in the future to improve accuracy. The current counters cannot differentiate between types of activity, such as walking, cycling or scooters.

A trail counter pictured in Legacy Regional Park. Courtesy: City of Lethbridge

The most popular areas in 2022 continued to be regional parks such as Henderson Lake Park and Nicholas Sheran Park.

But according to Richter, one north Lethbridge area in particular stood out from the rest.

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“Legacy Park was the only location that saw an actual increase in 2022,” he said. “(It had a) 42 per cent increase compared to 2021 and we can probably attribute that to the opening of the new discovery playground and the new spray park.”

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After years of planning and construction, major phases for the multi-million dollar park were completed in 2022.

The Helen Schuler Nature Centre is also seeing some positive trends.

Curtis Goodman, resource development coordinator, is glad to see more residents and students coming back through their doors.

“Overall in terms of attendance, it was closer to about 52,000 people and when we go back to 2019, we were closer to 60,000,” he explained.

“So we’re almost back to where we were before (COVID).”

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