City exploring relocation of Abby Grind: mayor

Popular Abbotsford trail currently runs through private property

The city has its eyes on relocating the popular Abbotsford Grind trail to get it off private property and allow it to promote the hike.

The trailhead is located to the north of Lakemount Road on a forested property with no buildings. The fact the property is private puts the city in an awkward position, Mayor Henry Braun said earlier this week following a presentation on the development of a new parks, recreation and culture (PRC) master plan for Abbotsford.

“That is why we don’t promote the Abby Grind because if we do we are actually promoting trespass,” Braun said. He added that the city is looking at “trying to relocate” the hike as part of the master plan updates. “I’m hoping that will happen and then we will promote the heck out of it because it’s a great trail.”

Braun didn’t expand on how, or where, the trail could be relocated.

His comments came after council was told Abbotsford trails have the highest participation rates of all the city’s parks, recreation and cultural amenities.

Urban Systems’ Catherine Berris, presenting the PRC master plan’s background research report, told council that those engaged in surveys and focus groups consistently ranked parks and trails as their highest priority for parks, recreation and culture. While pools, sports and fitness programs, sports fields, and gymnasium spaces all gathered significant responses, residents placed parks and trails at the top of their list.

Berris said almost every household responding to the city surveyed used Abbotsford’s 276 kilometres of trails. Satisfaction was also relatively high, with the majority of respondents rating trails a four or five out of five. (Around 13 per cent gave the trails a one or two rating.) To improve them, users suggested improved maintenance, more trail connections, more bike paths, and increased amenities like garbage cans, lighting and signage. There was also worry about development encroaching on trails, although it was suggested some of those concerns may relate to non-official paths on private property.

The city’s 192 parks also rated high levels of use, although satisfaction was less than for parks. Users called for more spray parks, new playgrounds in Mill Lake Park and on the city’s east side, more amenities, and more free little libraries.

The city’s sports fields were used by hundreds of survey respondents, but respondents called for more multi-sport tournament facilities, more clustered ball diamonds, and a general increase in the number of sports fields, along with improved maintenance.

Pool facilities received mediocre scores, while the city’s fitness centres rated much higher – although the activities and programs offered got lower scores.

Abbotsford’s visual arts offerings received the lowest satisfaction scores, with just 26 per cent giving a four or five rating. Performing arts offerings drew better, but still mediocre ratings. The venues for each were rated higher, but users and groups called for a “multi-purpose visual and performing arts facility in the city centre,” and called for more work on nurturing and promoting local artists. There was also a call for a permanent outdoor performance space.

The city’s arts display facilities drew higher satisfaction.

The city could also do better in preserving its heritage, respondents said. They gave middling ratings to Abbotsford’s heritage programs and buildings, and called on the city to update its 2005 heritage plan and involve and promote local Indigenous and multicultural communities.

Abbotsford’s libraries, on the other hand, turn out to be largely beloved.

Berris noted there was “incredibly high participation” rates at the libraries, and the facilities garnered the highest satisfaction scores in the survey. Ninety-two per cent of respondents gave libraries a rating of three or above. Most gave a four or five rating.

Groups expressed a desire for more libraries, increased hours, and improved accessibility. Literary arts programs, like author readings and writing courses, also received middling satisfaction scores in the survey.


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

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