Walking to save the walking trail

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Ferris is one of the more vocal residents who are upset after Council voted to decommission that section of the walking trail last week. Last night, the large, Facebook-organized group gathered to walk that path, and let the City know they don't support the decision. Council is closing the section of the walking trail along the East Bypass Road from 86 Street to 112 Avenue, and trail users will be directed to use the newly constructed trail adjacent to 86 and the new hospital. While the new route is similar in length, there are two differences Ferris says are negative.

"This has got a priceless commodity in the flat country: it's got a hill on it," he explains. "We like that hill because you can do a workout at home, from town, and you can run up that hill and get a workout on it."

The new route would also mean crossing busy roads more times than before. Ferris suggests the decision may have been made too quickly, and without a demonstrated demand from the public.

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"Instead of making the decision, talk about it first," he says. "Is it an issue? Talk to the public, set up somebody from the City here standing with a clipboard, talk to people."

The response to Council's decision has also brought talk of whether the placement of the Dangerous Goods Route through the city is appropriate. Ferris suggests the speed in the area either needs to be brought down, or the route changed entirely. He's also worried a decision like this might lead the city to shut down all of the walking trail on the DGR, leaving walkers to only have the city's sidewalks.

"If this is too close to pavement to be safe, why would I be using a sidewalk that basically I could stick my hand out and touch cars going by?"

In a comment on the City's Facebook page, Councillor Byron Stewart, who also took part in the walk last night, said he's interested in the idea of moving the DGR and would inquire into the process, but that it's been tried before unsuccessfully. According to the City, no decision has yet been made as to when and how the trail will be decommissioned. Stewart adds that Council has a meeting with the Ministry of Transportation this week, which is responsible for that stretch of road outside the city limits, to discuss both the Dangerous Goods Route and the trail alongside it.

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