Unauthorized Use of Township Property

The following memo was provided to Mayor and Council regarding unauthorized use of an unopened road allowance posing significant public safety and environmental protection concerns.

It has recently been brought to the attention of the Township that members of the public have been accessing an environmentally-sensitive area adjacent to Yorkson Creek on the north side of 88 Avenue in the 20500 block.

Staff inspection revealed unauthorized use and activities in the subject area, including cutting and filling of embankments, removal of tree roots and riparian area vegetation, and construction of riding ramps consistent with features needed for a bicycle / BMX track.

During the site visit, youth and younger members of the public were observed utilizing handheld equipment, such as shovels, axes, and wheelbarrows, to complete the referenced construction work. There was evidence of the said works having been in progress over a number of years. Research completed by staff revealed the area having been identified as the “Unofficial Walnut Grove Bike Park” on Google Maps.

Public access from the east end of Telegraph Trail on the west side of Yorkson Creek is unobstructed, with no fencing currently in place to ensure protection of the area. As there are public safety, environmental protection, and associated liability concerns associated with public accessing and using the steep embankments and environmentally-sensitive area, staff will be proceeding with securing the site by fencing off the current access locations, removing the unauthorized structures, and restoring the area to its natural condition, to the extent possible, unless otherwise directed by Council.

Staff will endeavour to negotiate acquisition of a statutory right-of-way along the private property to the south of the subject area, with a view to providing a pedestrian public trail from the southern end of 206 Street to 88 Avenue. If successful, funding associated with completion of this pedestrian connection will be included in the 2021 budget for Council’s consideration of approval. Finally, staff will also request Google Maps to delete the designation as a bike park.

Engineering Division

September 14, 2020: Read the Update: Unauthorized Use of Township Property news item.