Walking improvements needed Paddy's Pond walkability needs

whitehorsewalks.com
walker

June 12, 2013.

Paddy's Pond is our local pond. It's been a great place for walking with a real variety of routes and had mostly no motorized recreational vehicle using the area. But around the time of the new Hamilton Blvd. extension and its culvert, things started to change. The culvert acts as a destination, attracting both walkers and motorized vehicles. Also, the new roadbed construction changed water flows from springs in the area.

For Paddy's Pond, while water levels have varied in the past, recently the water has been consistantly higher as shown by the size of the trees that are being drowned. With higher water levels and careless trail use by motorized recreational vehicles, already fragile trails have been made difficult for walking in some places and unpassable in others.

In the past few years we've seen a new trail use, mountain biking. There's always been people biking the area but now there more people and often they are going to farther away places. So trails become wider, straightened out and generally more heavily used.

2012 Above-the-airport neighbourhood trail task force

This task force was to concentrate on designating a set of sustainable trails for the main city trail network.

The task force was not to choose trails with sustainability issues. The task force report did say that Klondike Snowmobile Club would like to route snowmobiles through the area on an official winter motorized trail. Unfortunately, recent snowmobile maps don't acknowledge that water flows through parts of the area. As well, the trails they make are wrecking interesting parts of the wetlands, such as one area I call orchid alley. Nor are they even required to use the official trail!

We often are concerned about damage to the land, to trails, or interference with wildlife. What seems to be neglected is interference with people. Many people when faced with taking a trail towards a loud race-track-like noise of snowmobiles, generally turn and go someplace else. This is having motorized vehicles displace people.

A natural setting

Paddy's Pond, a neighbourhood resource is a botany booklet created with Elijah Smith Grade 3 students and KDFN's Dianne Smith. This is the type of use of Paddy's Pond that makes sense, unlike the idea of making the pond an official snowmobile playground.

Let's look at a scenario for Paddy's Pond. Here's what one Hillcrest resident proposed

"One thing I had thought of is to build a mini wharf/dock type structure out into Paddy's Pond at the bottom of the toboggan hill. It could jut out past the willows and be edged with benches and railings as well as interpretive signage like those at McIntyre Creek.
This would block snowmobile traffic through that part of the pond in winter and make it so that people could sit and watch the very rich bird life on the pond in the warmer months. This could actually be part of a much longer interpretive walking trail through the whole wetland.
"

Another resident proposed cleaning up the tobaggan hill, making it safe for people on the hill, trying to restore it to as it was in older days. It could become a family place, even more than it already is.

Here's some places that need work.

  • (F) Fix the trail entering from Hillcrest Drive opposite Chalet Crescent. Tree roots and slipperyness make this not pleasant to walk.
  • (G) The trail around Paddy's Pond need re-routing as the water levels change.
  • (A,B,C) These mark wrecked pieces where a trail crosses a wet area. These crossings used to allow variety to people's neighbourhood walks.
  • (A,D) Vehicles are making yet more trails to bypass spots where they can't use the wetland trail they've already destroyed. Their method: move over 15 feet and make a new trail!
  • (A) This is actually an environmentally sensitive area.
  • (J) Block motor vehicle access.
  • (H) Toboggan Hill down from Granger needs help; it's not always safe, especially with snowmobiles on the trails.

Walking trails

Here's a few resources for learning simple trail maintenance. Repairs such as small bridges could be made fairly inexpensively if these were just foot trails; as part of their stewardship, motor vehicle groups would need to lobby their members to respect the area and stay away.

Lets look at a few neighbourhood loop trails that, with the trail work shown above, could become a walking network again. Think of walking about 4 km per hour for a moderate pace; think about taking a daily walk and the trail variety you'd like to use as you walk from your home.

Hillcrest loops: 2.5, 2.7, 5.1 kms
Granger loops: 2.0, 2.1, 3.7 kms

Above-the-airport trails and greenspaces committee

When the 2012 Task Force started, the city told our above-the-airport trails and greenspaces committee that they wouldn't meet with us during the Trail Task Force process. Once the Task Force has reported, telling what was decided and showing the survey results so we can see how decisions were made, our Above the Airport trails and greenspaces committee can continue with its stewardship role.

We also need Parks and trails department to say if they have opinions on how they see neighbourhood stewardship. The committee obviously needs to continue to be made up of neighbourhood trail users. There's a number of situations where the Task Force decided that, some trails, such as wetland trails, wouldn't work for the official city trails with the limited city budget. So now we need to see if the local community feels we should pursue any of them. For instance, shared walking routes as in the above diagrams do need wetland crossings.