To judge by the way things are going so far, the year 2012 will go down in Langley history as the Year of the Trail.
The South Langley Regional Trail has just received a major upgrade with the addition of a new bridge over a stream between 224 and 232 Streets.
The big news for trail riders, however, is that next Monday the new mayor and council are expected to be asked to fund completion of the trail as far as Aldergrove Lake Park. At the moment, the trail ends at 256 Street and 8 Avenue.
For months, a small but determined group of equestrians from the Vintage Riders Equestrian Club, the Aldergrove chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of BC and the Langley Horse and Farm Federation have been working towards the council presentation. Langley resident Sgt. Peter Thiessen, a well-known RCMP media spokesperson and avid horseman, will address council Monday night.
If council supports the initiative, construction of the new trail will be handled by Township staff in consultation with a variety of user groups.
Built in 1995, the South Langley Regional Trail was intended to connect Campbell Valley Park to Aldergrove Lake Park following quiet country roads and off-road sections that utilize rights of way and easements. The unfinished trailway has been approved for completion by a previous council, but the funds required to build it — around $500,000 — have never been authorized.
This will not just be a horse trail but a multi-use recreational corridor suitable for walkers, joggers, and cyclists as well as equestrians. In other words, it will benefit the entire community.
For many Aldergrove residents, who are still upset about the loss of their very popular swimming hole at Aldergrove Lake Park, they believe it is high time they got some fiscal attention.
Hopefully Mayor Jack Froese and council will see the economic wisdom of investing in recreational trails. For the growing number of small farmers who make up Langley’s agri-tourism industry, trails through rural areas bring customers to their farmgate to sample wine, buy fresh-cut flowers or enjoy locally-grown produce.
For members of Langley’s horse industry who cater to our 5,000 horses and ponies, recreational riders make up the majority of their business. A boarding stable near a riding trail is especially popular with riders of all disciplines who enjoy a chance to ride out without trailering. More trails keeps horses in Langley.
Recreational trails also give Langley residents in the more suburban neighbourhoods access to farms, and local children an introduction to horses, llamas, sheep and the other critters popular on hobby farms.
Support for completion of the South Langley Regional Trail initiative from other trail users, including cyclists, joggers and dog walkers, has been tremendous. Perhaps 2012 may also be the year cyclists, dog walkers, and other recreational trail users form partnerships for the good of all.
For updates on the presentation to council, those with a Facebook account can visit “Friends of the South Langley Regional Trail.” If you ‘like’ the trail Facebook page, you will receive updates on this and future trail initiatives.
Hope to see you on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Township hall. Dress is informal, but should include cowboy hats or helmets. Whips, spurs and riding crops are optional, and should not be necessary.
Anne Patterson is a Langley writer and horse owner. Contact here at firstname.lastname@example.org.