In November 2013, Alberta Transportation (AT) provided the AAMDC with a draft copy of Trails in Alberta Highway Rights-of-Way: Policies, Guidelines, and Standards. The AAMDC distributed the document to members for comment. The submission window closed on December 19, 2013.
The following summarizes the AAMDC’s key comments as submitted to Alberta Transportation:
In many cases, the endpoints of a trail will receive the majority of its economic benefits, while the municipality through which the trail passes receives little or no benefit. As the manual is written, if a trail passes through a highway right-of-way, regardless of its beginning and end point, the municipality in which the right-of-way is located is responsible for approvals, maintenance, and liability regardless of whether or not it derives any economic benefit from the trail.
- AT must clarify what information municipalities will be required to provide before the municipality approves a trail in a highway right-of-way. Currently, the manual allows AT to require the municipality to provide additional (and potentially costly) information after the municipality has approved the trail.
- The AAMDC appreciates that the requirement for an MOU between AT and the involved municipality that clarifies the municipality’s responsibilities is included in the manual. The option for municipalities to form a concurrent MOU with local trail proponents should be specified in the manual.
- The manual must clarify the definition of “safety and utilitarian transportation” when allowing for the possibility of Alberta Transportation funding the construction and/or maintenance of trails in highway rights-of-way.
- The manual must clarify who will be responsible for enforcement on non-provincial trails in provincial highway rights-of-way.
- The exclusion of horse-drawn vehicles from the definition of modes of transportation supported for trail use is problematic. It is inconsistent with an existing government-published trail classifications guide that defines horse-drawn vehicles as an approved mode of trail transportation. It also overlooks the important utilitarian purpose of horse-drawn vehicles in rural Alberta.
The AAMDC appreciates the feedback provided by members. The above comments reflect the concerns of rural municipalities and will improve the fairness of the manual.
Enquiries may be directed to: