With great interest and astonishment I read your article entitled “No more ski trails in River Lot 56” from Saturday Dec. 19.
I am a cross-country skier and I have always enjoyed the quiet nature setting of skiing in River Lot 56. It was always well maintained by STANSKI, whose people put in numerous hours to groom the trails. They always did this job without damage to the natural beauty of this natural area.
Having no groomed trails and especially the tone of the dispute between STANSKI and the river lot society is very disappointing for a citizen and skier like me. Yes, we can make our own bumpy trails, on which people still walk their dogs, but it is not of the same quality as when STANSKI took care of them. Your article makes the public believe that STANSKI and their skiers are unwilling to accept the boundaries of a natural area and that having no ski trials is only the result of conflicts between STANSKI and the society.
But what does the article not tell? The river lot society now invites the public to ski your own trials in a natural setting. But did you know that the City of St. Albert had to step in during late fall to mow the trails in the river lot, although that was the job for the stewards of the river lot? Without the City there would have been no skiing!
The article also contains a false statement, made by one of the river lot board members. He was quoted saying the STANSKI members cut holes in the fence around the river lot. Under no circumstances did STANSKI members cut the fence, but this is likely the result of vandalism, unfortunately an increasing problem in St. Albert.
During the summer the grass was very high and numerous fallen trees were blocking the trails. One tree that was cut remains leaning on the fence, causing a big hazard. A few summers ago there was a fire in the river lot, but the society could not be reached.
What is also omitted in the article is that one of the entrances to the lower river lot was closed without consultation with the ski club. In a society where people try to work together in the interest of the public, such lack of communication is not very positive. Even more disturbing was the fact that some river lot society board members were not aware that this gate was closed and that this was a unilateral action of one of the stewards. Furthermore, the same person who closed one of the gates put in big signs that makes entry of grooming equipment for skiing difficult.
All these unilateral acts by the river lot society make it difficult to believe that their stewards are acting in the best interest of the public. Their duty as stewards of provincial land is to preserve and maintain the natural beauty of this area. This is public land for all of us to enjoy. Lack of maintenance of this area, miscommunication with a local ski club that has maintained the trails for years (although that was the duty of the society) and unilateral acts of passive aggression are not in the interest of the public. Under such circumstances, the duties of some members of the society should be reviewed by the province.
Leo Dieleman, St. Albert