The connection between Meadow Lake and Flying Dust First Nation will soon grow even stronger.

During a special meeting held last Thursday (March 17), Meadow Lake city council passed a motion awarding the contract for its walking trail design/build project to G&C Asphalt, as recommended by an RFP evaluation team. The cost of this project is covered 100 per cent by the federal and provincial governments up to $2,300,000.

“The walking trail project is being undertaken through an Invest in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant where the federal and provincial governments are covering 100 per cent of the project funding due to the project’s partnership with Flying Dust First Nation,” reiterated city clerk Ferne Hebig in her official recommendation to council. “The deadline to complete the project is Dec. 31, 2022.”

The plan is to use the city’s sidewalk system to connect the existing walking path in Lions Park to the existing walking trail at Flying Dust.

“Until the engineering portion of the project is complete, we can’t nail the exact route down to 100 per cent accuracy,” Hebig told Northern Pride in a recent interview. “Some minor adjustments may yet need to be made. The route it will take within the city is pretty set, it’s mostly the route once it gets across the highway that may need adjusting.”

Among those excited for the project is Meadow Lake resident Linda Harman, an avid user of the walking path in Lions Park and a former member of the local In Motion committee.

“People have used the (Lions Park) walking path so much these past couple years,” Harman said. “It’s really been kind of the recreational facility that has kept people going during a pretty tough time, and it crosses all demographics – elderly, young kids, families. As a city, I believe we should capitalize on the opportunity to expand the trail.”

However, Harman also said she wishes there would have been better communication between the city and the public in terms of allowing people to better understand what is planned and what the trail will look like.

“It would have been nice if something could have been on their website or in the newspaper,” Harman added. “Whenever there are zoning changes, that goes in the paper. Well, this is a pretty big project and it would be nice to know where it’s going so we can all buy in on it. I want to hear about it. This is a good news story, and I just want everone to know abut it.”

According to Hebig, the new path is expected to start from the intersection of the east side back alley of Bridger Drive and Larocque Drive. The 2.5-metre wide asphalt trail will continue along Larocque Drive on the south side of the ditch up to the three-way stop sign at the Larocque Drive and 3rd Street East intersection. This section of the trail borders the golf course. The asphalt walking trail will then continue along 3rd Street East from the Larocque Drive and 3rd Street East intersection to the 9th Avenue East and 3rd Street East intersection. From there, the trail will proceed along 3rd Street East toward the RCMP detachment with improvements and considerations made with regard to street and driveway crossings, drainage issues and more.

The walking trail starting from the RCMP detachment heading east on the north side of Highway 55 will also be 2.5-metre wide asphalt trail, and will continue up to the residential area of Flying Dust First Nation.

Construction is slated to be completed by mid-October.

by Phil Ambroziak