The city and BC Wildfire Service crews work on a wildfire risk mitigation project at Howe Creek trail in April. The city has approved a budget to upgrade multiple outdoor projects including the Howe Creek. (City of Terrace)

The city and BC Wildfire Service crews work on a wildfire risk mitigation project at Howe Creek trail in April. The city has approved a budget to upgrade multiple outdoor projects including the Howe Creek. (City of Terrace)

Council gives thumbs up to recreation projects

And Walmart draws criticism for litter accumulation

Council has approved spending just over $100,000 on a number of outdoor projects using dividends from the city-owned Terrace Community Forest.

One significant project is running a fence down the eastern edge of the Walmart parking lot so that garbage does not blow down to the Riverwalk Trail that’s between the parking lot and the Skeena River while another significant project will see drainage and other improvements to the section of the Howe Creek Trail between Eby and Thomas.

City staffers development services director David Block and leisure services director Tara Irwin outlined years of frustrations in dealing with Walmart regarding litter and garbage blowing from the store’s parking lot to the Riverwalk Trail.

Local managers as well as the chain store’s corporate office have proven difficult to deal with regarding the issue, they said at council’s April 25 meeting with Irwin adding that the city has even issued fines.

“We’ve spent a significant amount of time in past years cleaning up this trail,” she said.

Walmart, added Block, has been “very reluctant to do anything like this, install their own fence.”

Block did say that because of the Walmart parking lot location at a windy end of town, not all of the garbage that ends up on the Riverwalk Trail may come from the store.

“But we do know a lot of its generated by their customers leaving their store who may dispose of some of their packaging before they get into their vehicle,” he said.

“It’s very disappointing Walmart is such a prominent corporation that it is not able to take care of its own backyard,” commented councillor Dave Gordon.

Irwin noted that beside accumlated litter on the Riverwalk Trail, it has also been the location of what she called “negative activity” such that Southside residents and others have been reluctant to use it because of safety reasons.

With a $30,000 budget, erecting a fence and taking other measures would renew the trail and make it appealing again to locals, she added.

Meanwhile, city staffers have assigned $45,000 to replace culverts and do ditching and erosion prevention along 1,100 metres of the Howe Creek trail between Thomas and Eby.

Concrete barriers would also be placed near Caledonia Ave. to buffer rockfalls and touch up work would take place at the tree park and along the pathway up Donald Hill that’s on the left hand side of Lanfear Hill.

Irwin said culvert replacements would prevent water seeping up in the winter that then freezes and becomes a walking hazard.

Other work planned includes ….

– spending $5,200 to design an eastern end extension to the Howe Creek trail that would take it across Kalum to an area of a waterfall. An earlier plan to spend $56,200 for the actual work has been shelved for now because the city has so far been unable to gain access across private land. Irwin said having a design would, however, be helpful should the city ever resolve the access issue.

– spending $15,000 on upgrades from the Howe Creek trail leading to the bench. A full project would have cost $35,000 but the inability to get access through private property reduced the scope of work.

– the plan to revive Kerr Park on the Southside will see its budget boosted by $10,000 mainly because of increased shipping costs for new playground and other equipment, said Irwin. This work will dovetail nicely with what’s planned for the Riverwalk Trail.

– adding $7,500 to an already-committed $30,000 to install new swings in George Little Park. This project would include accessible swings and swings so that people can sit across from each other.

– adding $3,500 to a $15,000 grant received by the Farmer’s Market Society for two bike racks and a permanent ramp up to the performance stage at George Little Park. The money will cover labour as the farmer’s market grant covers just the ramp and the bike racks.

Altogether council approved $106,200 for the projects and Irwin was confident all could be handled this year.

In addition to forgoing any work on extending the Howe Creek trail eastward, also shelved was replacing the bridge across Howe Creek that’s located near Lanfear Hill because it is not urgent to do so.