Rail & Parks – Project Update

  • East Central Alberta Heritage Society approved through the Canadian Badlands Ltd., partnered with the Federal Government and Western Economic Diversification Canada to receive $2.6 million to re-lay rail between Stettler and Donalda and another $732,000 for the development of up to seven “Natural Linear Parks”.
  • As part of the funding conditions ECAHS must raise $400,000.00 in cash and/or acceptable gift-in-kind of materials or services to the Donalda – Stettler rail project and $60,000 in support of the “Natural Linear Park” project. Both projects must be completed by the spring of 2011. The deadline for accepting the fund and the attached conditions is April 15, 2010.
  • Alberta Prairie Railway agrees that it will operate excursion trains to Donalda when the line is rebuilt.
  • Met with Village of Donalda council to discuss arrangements that will allow ECAHS to reconstruct rail line and siding on station grounds owned by the Village. Arrangements are currently being made to grant a 99 year lease on rail rights of way through the property.

  • Met with association president Larry Steeves and a committee of adjacent landowners to determine if there is common ground for the development of Natural Linear Parks and whether there is opposition to the reconstruction rail from Stettler to Donalda. There appears to be support for rail reconstruction particularly if the project addresses the question of fencing parallel to the rights of way. Although the idea of Natural Linear Parks was not wholeheartedly accepted, at least the concept was not rejected out of hand.
  • Published a society newsletter announcing the project funding and launching an appeal for donations and memberships. Approximately $11,000 was raised in the first few weeks of the campaign.
  • Asked Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways for the opportunity to salvage materials from rail lines scheduled for abandonment. This maybe the most cost effective means of obtaining the materials required to reconstruct the Donalda line.
  • Spent two days traveling and inspecting rail rights of way with Tammy MacMillan of TERA Environmental Consultants. All indications are that there are no environ-mental concerns standing in the way of rail reconstruction and Natural Linear Park development. The only restrictions maybe the timing of construction and development. Wildlife habitat and where possible natural vegetation be protected.
  • Applications have been made for funding under the Province of Alberta’s Community Spirit Program, Rural Development Fund, Community Initiatives Program (CIP) and Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP).
  • Corporate funding appeal is getting underway and the very first contact generated a $2,500 donation from ATCO Electric and ATCO has also offered manpower and equipment.
  • The Heritage Society set up a website in January/2010 to keep people up-to-date on our progress.
  • We met with Honorable Jack Hayden, MLA for Drumheller-Stettler on March 30
  • Honorable Jack Hayden has contacted CN and CP on our behalf regarding the acquisition of rail.
  • We will be pursuing a grant under the Rural Alberta Development Fund (RADF).
  • We are keeping our MLA’s up-to-date on our progress
    • Jack Hayden – Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development
    • Lindsay Blackett – Minister for Culture and Community Spirit
    • Cindy Ady – Minister for Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation
  • Community Futures East Parkland has committed $15,000 as a donation in kind and Communty Futures Big Country has committed $3,000, both donations are for the Linear Parks Project
  • Made formal presentations to both County of Stettler and Town of Stettler Councils
  • The Town of Stettler has committed equipment as a donation for the rail project
  • Alberta Trail Riding Association (ATRA) has shown interest in the Linear Parks project
  • The Province of Alberta has committed $75,000 for one of our CFEP (Community Facility Enhancement Program) applications for the rail project
  • We applied for grant from Transat Support Sustainable Tourism for rail project
  • applied to TD Canada Trust Friends of the Environment Fund for Linear Parks Project
  • Private donations continue to come in and more people are becoming members of East Central Alberta Heritage Society with a number becoming life members
  • Agriculture Financial Services Corporation has made a contribution to the rail project.
  • County of Stettler Council has approved the use of their equipment for the rail project.
  • ATB Financial has contributed $1,000 to the rail project.
  • We have received approval of $75,000 for our other CFEP application to the Province. This now totals $150,000 from the Province of Alberta.
  • TD Bank Friends of the Environment Foundation has committed $1,000 to the Linear Parks Project
  • Purchased rail, ties and related material to complete the rail project to as far as Red Willow. These materials have started and will continue to arrive in stages as space for stockpiling and trucking comes available. Given that rail and other materials are being purchased rather than donated or salvaged it will only be possible to rebuild the railway to as far as Red Willow. This change in the project description has been confirmed and approved by Canadian Badlands and the Government of Canada. Additional fund raising will still be needed to complete the final 9 miles to Donalda.
  • Cando Contracting Ltd.has committed $350,000 to the Rail Project
  • An expression of interest has been made to the Rural Alberta Development Fund (RADF)
  • Rail construction has made good progress since late September after delays due to the rain. Material has been distributed to within four miles of Red Willow, and the first two miles of the relay is now complete.Weather will be the controlling factor in November and December as to how much progress the rail installation makes during these months.
  • Strad Energy, of Stettler donated a washroom to be used in one of the linear parks.
  • Excellent progress is being made on the five linear parks. A total of 200 blue bird houses have been purchased  from the Buffalo Lake Naturalists Society. That group has offered to help with distinguishing plants in the Linear Parks so that we will be able to have signage made. The Linear Parks at Meeting Creek and Edberg – the fencing and gates are complete.
  • All of the trestles have had railings installed for safety and 55 blue bird houses have been installed in the Meeting Creek park.
  • Development permits have been approved by Starland County for the Rumsey and Rowley linear parks and Camrose County for the Edberg park.
  • The parallel fencing is now complete in all five Natural Linear Parks.
  • 5 sets of garbage and recyclable waste bins have been purchased through the Town of Stettler and the construction of 10 picnic tables is now complete.
  • On November 10, Donalda & District Community Promotion Societyhosted a train forum in Donalda, it was very well attended, representatives from the Heritage Society, Big Valley and Donalda spoke to the group, there were a lot of questions and answers and everyone left feeling optimistic about the trains eventual arrival in Donalda although there is still work to be done with more fund raising to be completed.
  • Installation of the rail and ties are continuing although at a slower pace and eventually halted due to the colder temperatures and deep snow.
  • Ten sets of fully self-contained washrooms are being built over the winter.

 

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