MD agrees to pursue lease for parking lot
A solution to a haphazard and dangerous parking situation at Jura Creek is in the works after the MD of Bighorn council agreed to work with the province to lease Crown land along Highway 1A for a parking lot.
Jura Creek, located east of Exshaw, has become a popular hike over the past few years, with hikers parking in the highway right-of-way and on an access road to the Graymont plant and Two Feathers Contracting yard.
Tour buses have also begun stopping along the south side of Highway 1A, forcing groups of people to cross the highway used by heavy rock industry trucks.
Following a Sept. 20 meeting, the Trucking Sub-Committee of the Bighorn Corridor Environment Committee recommended the MD apply for the lease.
According to Chief Administrative Officer Martin Buckley, Trucking Sub-Committee industry representatives indicated a willingness to work with the MD to construct a parking lot.
He said land is available at the best location for a Jura Creek parking lot immediately north of the Graymont turnoff.
“When we met with the province they indicated this area could be turned into a parking lot,” Buckley said Tuesday (Oct. 9) during a regular council meeting.
MD Councillor Paul Ryan, who has been a long and vocal advocate for solving unsafe conditions along Highway 1A, said he supported pursuing the lease.
“This has been an issue for a couple of years and it is getting worse,” Ryan said, adding he’s trying to bypass having to close the area and enforcement and go straight to the solution.
“It’s a safety issue created by non-residents to the MD. This is about dealing with a safety issue and there is a conflict between recreational users and heavy trucks that travel that road,” Ryan said. “I’d rather work toward a solution than impose one because the imposed one would not be appreciated by the public.”
Coun. Erik Butters, who supported creating a safer situation, questioned who would maintain a parking lot.
Buckley said Alberta Tourism Parks and Recreation indicated it could assist the MD with maintenance.
Coun. Reid Thomas said he was disappointed the province wasn’t taking a greater role and that the MD had to take on responsibility for the issue by default. “I’m not adverse to us going after it and doing it all for the right reasons,” he said.
And with Lafarge moving forward with its plans to expand and modernize its Exshaw plant, MD Reeve Dene Cooper said he is willing to assume responsibility if it provides a formal parking area with safe access.
“I don’t want to provide an experience, I’m not trying to discourage or encourage people to go, I’m just trying to provide a place to park safely when they are there,” he said.
With council on board, administration will begin working with Alberta Public Lands and Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development to acquire a lease, according to Buckley’s report to council.
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