Kneehill County moving ahead with Horseshoe Canyon focus group

Written by Stu Salkeld
One of the largest tourist attractions in the region will get a boost from Kneehill County after councillors approved a terms of reference for a focus group at their regular meeting July 21.
Councillors read a memo from Bowen Clausen, manager of parks and agriculture services, describing the proposed Horseshoe Canyon focus Group.
“At the June 22, 2020 regular meeting, council directed administration to develop a terms of reference for consideration, to form a Horseshoe Canyon focus group to review the Horseshoe Canyon masterplan and make recommendations to council as to next steps,” stated Clausen in his report.
“The recommended committee makeup is shown in the ToR, however administration would like direction from council, in regards to the appointment of members at large and how council would like to do this.
“It is recommended that members be appointed for their potential and insightful contributions, as well as those that will actively participate and share productive viewpoints which look at what is best for Horseshoe Canyon and also for Kneehill County and the region.
“It is recommended to use a third-party facilitator that has experience with recreational sites, but also to lead the sessions from and with a neutral and objective process that allows open, productive and nonjudgmental or reactive dialogue to occur.
“Facilitators have the experience and capacity to work through difficult or tense conversations and find common ground from which all parties can move forward in an agreeable form.”
In the draft terms of reference included for councillors, it was stated under the heading “mandate,” “In order to fulfill its purpose, the Committee will play a vital role in: Developing an understanding of the current situation; Assisting in prioritizing next steps and future initiative and/or projects, etc. to Kneehill County Council and; To engage stakeholder opinions regarding opportunities and concerns related to initiatives in or around the Canyon.”
Clausen said possible members of the focus group might include the Nature Conservancy, the Royal Tyrell Museum, the campground, Travel Alberta and possibly a few others. He pointed out that none of these groups have been approached yet.
Clausen stated the 2020 budget includes funding for this project.
Councillors approved the terms of reference as presented in a 6 – 1 vote.
Road closure
Councillors approved the initial step in closing a road near Horseshoe Canyon at the July 21 meeting.
Barb Hazelton, manager of planning and development, presented council with a report on the proposed road closure. 
“Currently Kneehill County holds a 3.56-acre title to an area directly south of Horseshoe Canyon that has been fragmented by road plan 834 LK.
“This parcel contains portions of the parking lot and a small portion of the canyon itself. The existing outhouses are on the boundary of the road allowance. 
The portion of the undeveloped township road runs through the parking lot, the turn around, a portion of the canyon and some of the enhanced trail down to the base.
“Administration is proposing that this portion of Twp. Rd 28-4 be closed and consolidated into descriptive plan 091 0342, Block 1, Lot 2 that was created following the realignment of the highway. 
“We are also proposing to close road plan 834 LK which completely fragments the current title. This will also be consolidated into descriptive plan 091 0342, Block 1, Lot 2.”
Councillors approved first reading of the bylaw to close the road. It will now be publicly advertised and go to a public hearing. 
Hazelton stated a closure like this usually takes a year to complete.
Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.