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Hinton wetland boardwalk will be restored later this year

Three kilometres of boardwalk over a wetland near Jasper National Park is getting a 2.5 million upgrade
The Beaver Boardwalk in Hinton, Alta.

Major maintenance to Hinton’s Beaver Boardwalk is due to start later this year.

The Boardwalk Rehabilitation Project will address infrastructure improvements and continued preservation of the iconic and much-beloved nature viewing and recreational spot.

“About 85 per cent of the total boardwalk out there will be completed back to its original state … even more stable than its original state with new pilings that we'll be putting in,” said Heather Waye, Hinton's parks, recreation and culture manager.

Replacing all the pilings should help to stabilize the entire structure. Those new pilings, she said, should last 50 to 75 years.

“The idea was that if we're going to make these kinds of impacts on the wetland by doing construction in there that we would want to do as much of it at one time as possible going in and disturbing the wetland just the once. It should last well into my retirement,” she said.

“It's a quality wetland, and we want to make sure we're protecting the ecology of it.”

The contractor has proposed that the work should take approximately 10 weeks. To ensure the least impact on the wetland ecosystem, the project will also take place under frozen conditions starting this winter.

The town has scheduled that work to be completed by December 2025. Waye said that if this coming winter cooperates then it could be done as early as the spring.

Work has already been completed on sections CC, DD, EE, FF, H, and half of section GG. A temporary solution was instituted for the other half of GG.

The new project involves lowering certain sections to eliminate the need for railings, levelling out uneven areas, replacing worn and loose boards and installing new wayfinding signs on sections K, L and M. Some sections will also be widened to enhance the user experience at high-traffic locations.

Featuring more than three kilometres of boardwalk, seating areas and interpretive signs, the Beaver Boardwalk has experienced the compounded challenges of age on its structural integrity and of too much red ink on its balance sheet.

When Hinton announced the upcoming work, it also proclaimed that it would be made possible with $2.5 million in grants from the Forest Resource Improvement Association of Alberta (FRIAA).

A press release issued last week stated that the grant funds will also be used to leverage additional funding streams to help support 100 per cent completion of the Boardwalk Rehabilitation Project to ensure continued enjoyment of this natural space for generations to come.

“We are grateful to FRIAA for their support, which will enable us to undertake much-needed restorative work on the Beaver Boardwalk, and we look forward to seeing it returned to its full glory,” said Hinton Mayor Nicholas Nissen in the statement.

Waye was confident that 100 per cent completion of the project would be achievable by December 2026.

Hinton council provides $60,000 in funding annually to the parks department for it to do regular operating maintenance on the Beaver Boardwalk. This covers replacing rotten boards and trying to level out some slumping sections, for example. That works continues on a business-as-usual basis, with some of it expected over the next few weeks and months.

“We are lowering some of the sections, because obviously anything that's over three feet requires a railing and the railings tend to take away from the experience a little bit,” Waye said.

“Any locations that we can lower, we'll be doing some of that work this summer, just with our operating dollars for the park staff themselves. We'll be out there doing sections K, L and M, which will be starting in less than two weeks.”

Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ecology and Environment Reporter at the Fitzhugh Newspaper since July 2022 under Local Journalism Initiative funding provided by News Media Canada.
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