After about 11 years of on-and-off construction, the Prince Albert Rotary Trail remains between five and six kilometres shy of circling the city.
“Over the past couple of years it doesn’t really seem to be a priority,” Dave Fischl said before making a presentation at Monday’s city council meeting.
“We’ve seen money allocated to it for the past number of years, but by the time they get around to actually doing the work it’s too late in the year, and then it gets forwarded to the following year and then that year goes by.”
Fischl lighted the spark that resulted in the Rotary Trail’s construction in 2002, during a Prince Albert Safety Council Meeting. During the meeting he suggested the ambitious walking and cycling trail, which resulted in the creation of the Multi-Use Recreational Trail Committee taking on the project, which he currently serves as chairman of.
Work began in 2003, with the first kilometer of Rotary Trail stretching westbound down the riverfront from the Prince Albert Historical Museum.
“That was sort of our showcase of what we said we’d like to see going around the city,” Fischl said.
In 2004, the Prince Albert Rotary Club became the project’s title sponsor thanks to a donation of $100,000.
Fundraising and searching for federal, provincial and municipal funds continued over the years, with about 17 kilometres of the trail currently completed to today.
At a near standstill for the past few years, Fischl wants to see the project completed. Although there are a few small gaps elsewhere, the bulk of the trail remaining incomplete makes up the city’s southwest quadrant.
After that’s done, Fischer hopes to see another five kilomteres built, attaching the trail to Little Red River Park, northeast of the Diefenbaker bridge.
We’ve seen money allocated to it for the past number of years, but by the time they get around to actually doing the work it’s too late in the year, and then it gets forwarded to the following year and then that year goes by. - Dave Fischl, Prince Albert Multi-Use Recreational Trail Committee chairperson
The project is a showpiece to the city -- something Fischer hopes the newly elected city council recognizes.
“It’s for all walks of life, no matter what ability you have,” he said. “We’ve seen people out there on wheelchairs, we’ve seen families out there, cyclists out there, elderly people getting their exercise.”
After listening to a brief presentation by Fischl during Monday’s city council meeting, the city’s elected officials pushed the item forward to the 2013 budget process.
“You’ve been here every year, and have you have been the conscience of council when it comes to the trail, and we appreciate that,” Coun. Ted Zurakowski told Fischl.
Although Zurakowski noted that there have been reasons why certain areas of the trail have not been done yet, he said, “I’m hoping that this year we can get ‘er done.”
“You do have my political will,” Mayor Greg Dionne told Fischl.
While some areas may take some extra time due to other projects going on in the area, Dionne said that he “can’t see why we can’t go forward with the rest of it.”
Coun. Rick Orr motioned with council’s approval that a pile of information regarding the Rotary Trail is forwarded to 2013 budget deliberations, including an in-depth financial summary from 2003 to 2012 and reasons certain sections of the trail remain incomplete.
“I really, really believe that this council’s going to walk the talk,” Fischl said. “I know that’s a bit of a pun with the trail, but I really, really believe that this is when it’s going to happen.”