As both an avid user of Kingswood Park and River Lot 56 (RL56) and living within just metres of both, it is clear to me that the group that needs their actions evaluated is the River Lot 56 Natural Area Society.
While STANSKI has proven to be a good steward of both RL56 and Kingswood Park with their volunteers providing quality cross-country skiing facilities, the River Lot 56 Natural Area Society is a group of grumpy old men who have become obsessed with the power and position they have been given by the province.
Just read their ridiculous letter from last Saturday’s Gazette — no doing this, no doing that, no doing nothing and, by the way, enjoy the snow! Can you believe this arrogance? This group has become increasingly difficult to deal with over the years and now their idea of protecting the area for “future generations” is to put up more fences, lock the gates, create more rules and basically not maintain RL56 in an effort to detract visitors. In summer, knee-deep grass is no longer cut down on the trails and the abundant deadfall of trees crossing trails is left as a hazard. Today, they are unwilling to continue the trail grooming provided by STANSKI letting visitors wade through the deep snow and those fallen trees. I can recall a summer walk in RL56 a few years ago with my daughters and their friends and crossing paths with a man who identified himself as being with the society and he proceeded to berate me for having “noisy kids and not walking down the centre of the path.” I didn’t get a thank you call from him when I phoned the RCMP about a quad user who got into the RL56 area and was illegally tearing up the grounds a few years back. I’ve used the RL 56 trails in both summer and winter for the past 20 years and in the last few years, the society has let them deteriorate greatly; disguising this “natural state.” What good is the natural state if nobody can enjoy it?
Stewardship is not about building fences, or locking gates and making RL56 undesirable to visit. It’s about creating a friendly, safe and enjoyable area so that the all visitors become the eyes and ears and stewards of RL56. STANSKI has proven to be a good park steward, good neighbours and they listen to feedback given to them. In fact, in 2008, STANSKI put forward a proposal for club expansion in Kingswood Park that was not agreeable to the residents due to parking expansion concerns. Through effective dialogue and consultation with the residents, the issue was resolved to the satisfaction of the residents and STANSKI. That is how you earn the right to be stewards. There has been no community consultation with River Lot 56 Natural Area Society that I can ever recall.
I urge readers of this letter to contact the ministers of both Sustainable Resource and Development and Tourism, Parks and Recreation and request that an immediate conduct review of the River Lot 56 Natural Area Society occur with a recommendation that STANSKI become the future stewards of RL56. As taxpayers and ratepayers who ultimately contribute funds to organizations and societies such as these, we hold all groups accountable to act in the best interests of the general public. The River Lot 56 Natural Area Society has failed and should be dismissed.
Jeff Bertram, St. Albert