The Scott Kenny Trail is a trail in limbo.
On the one hand, it’s a nice legacy for the city’s former Director of Parks and Recreation. Residents have always wanted a crossing over Rogers Creek between Cherry Creek Road and Tebo Avenue, and it appears to be quite well-used, even at this time of year. A vehicle bridge would have been nice.
But, what can you expect from a town whose heart is ravaged by inner-city blight, and where the average income is among the lowest in the province? So this is the compromise.
On the other hand, it looks like an unfinished trail. There hasn’t been any work on it for almost year. Yet in some ways it looks as if they expected to be back soon. There is a large pile of junk and rubber tires left on the south side of the trail at the bottom of the slope to the salmon rearing channel, and a few other scraps near the bridge.
On the north side, the Tebo entrance consists of a log dropped across the path, and there is a large pile of gravel waiting to be spread somewhere. Part way down the trail, the gravel is eroding off the trail and down the slope. Then there’s a bridge to remove or do something with.
You can see on the city’s on-line trail map that the trail system is much larger than what was built between Cherry Creek Road and the fair grounds. It includes a pre-existing trail consisting of an easy walk from the lower bridge downstream and then a very steep hike up to the north end of 10th Avenue. But you won’t find an entrance sign when you get to the end of 10th Avenue. And the lower bridge is not shown on the city’s web-map.
There is also a gentler un-built trail shown on the city map that extends from the lower bridge to the fair grounds. It is a pre-existing trail as well. Another part of the trail below Tebo and Cherry Creek Road has been bladed but not capped with gravel. So now there is an erosion issue on it because it is quite steep.
Personally, I would like to see the trail improved a bit, even if there is no money for improving the pre-existing trails. However, the mayor has indicated that no work will be done without grant money. The least that should be done though is to remove the junk at the bottom of the ravine. I mean, really, it is a one-hour job at most. It would make a big difference. It shows that the city cares about the appearance of its parks.
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Also, some memorial benches part way down and at the bottom would be excellent.
If I’m not mistaken, these benches are paid for by the estates of Port Alberni citizens who have passed away. I must say that Victoria Quay is looking rather crowded with benches these days.
The Scott Kenny Trail would be an excellent alternative location for them. The trail is steep and some of us would appreciate a rest on the way up the trail as well as along the banks of Rogers Creek.
As for the future, when some grant money does become available, there are a number of little projects that could be done. First, some signs. There are no signs at three of the five entrances to the trail system as it is shown on the city’s web-map. And the one at the fair ground entrance has faded badly so that none of the streets are visible.
Second, if more trail construction occurs, it should use different construction techniques. The steep trail I mentioned earlier should have steps built in rather than to try to have a gentle grade. The dirt path along the creek is fine as it is, but it could use some brushing.
Third, it would be nice to establish some connectivity with the other existing trails in the Rogers Creek ravine upstream such as the trail along the edge of the North Island College campus, which by the way, borders a dangerous cliff and should be fenced.
Other enhancements could come from the salmon enhancement people who built the salmon rearing channels in the creek by the upper bridge. It sorely needs more planting to restore the cooling canopy of trees that existed before the project. Some planting has occurred, but more fast-growing trees would help immensely.
As well, an interpretive sign explaining what was done and why is also needed.
As it is budget season, I would like to remind the city that all the city’s trails require some degree of maintenance. And as it is very difficult to get grant money for trail maintenance, the city should provide some money for that. There is also the gravel capping that has already eroded off the trail that I mentioned earlier. It may be from a design flaw that did not anticipate the amount of water flowing down that part of the trail.
The Scott Kenny Trail system has the potential to be a wonderful urban adventure park with key features like the shale cliff by the upper bridge, the ridge path, the bridges, the path along the river, the salmon rearing channels, and the steep rough trails coming off 10th Avenue. We have a great trail that connects the north and south sides of Port Alberni (which historically were known as Alberni and Port Alberni before amalgamation in 1967).
Although it is pretty steep for cyclists it is good exercise for people on foot. A few little touches would make it look like a finished job, even if it isn’t.