City admin suggests more consultation before council makes final decision on potential La Colle Falls tourist site

Construction on the La Colle Falls hydroelectric dam continues in this photo taken on Aug. 23, 1913. -- Photo from the Prince Albert Historical Society Facebook page.

The City of Prince Albert should hold further talks and complete an archeological assessment before applying to make the La Colle Falls area a historical site.

That’s according to a report from Prince Albert Community Services Director Jody Boulet that was written at city council’s request and included in the agenda package for Monday’s executive committee meeting.

Boulet wrote that the City would need to take multiple steps to develop the property, but the archeological assessment and consultations with PAREDA, local rural municipalities, and Indigenous groups were the biggest.

“Due to the size of the site and its potential for both settler and Indigenous significance, an archaeological assessment by a professional is recommended,” Boulet wrote. “As the land in question is located within the RM of Prince Albert, any Municipal Heritage Designation would come from the RM, and consultation with the RM in this regard is required. Only with municipal level designation can the City proceed with the applications for Provincial and Federal designations, and pursue any related funding opportunities.”

Attempts to develop the La Colle falls site were made in 2009, 2013, 2019, and 2020. The most recent involved the RM of Garden River, who wanted to create a day park in the area.

Boulet wrote that the City could consider a low impact approach if council determines it would cost too much to turn it into a historical tourist site.

There is increased regulation on all properties that receive a Heritage Designation, Boucher wrote, and that may require significant investment. Instead, the City could create a trail network with signs pointing to a viewing point for the La Colle Falls site.

Boulet wrote that this would leave the site undisturbed, while still giving tourists and hikers a chance to view it.

Regardless of what direction the City takes, Boulet wrote that any efforts to increase foot traffic at the site would likely lead to more unwanted visitors.

“The pursuit of a heritage designation should only come as the result of significant consultation on the matter, determining if the costs, risks and rewards balance,” Boulet wrote.

“An additional important step would be to consult with Tourism to evaluate the Tourism potential and any regional support or advice available through PAREDA regarding the potential development of La Colle Falls and Area. Through this consultation there may be both short and long term opportunities worth investigating for future recommendation to members of Council.”

The La Colle Falls report is one of five items on the consent agenda for Monday’s Executive Committee Meeting. Council will also hear an update on the City’s Strategic Plan, and a presentation from the committee spearheading Prince Albert’s efforts to host the upcoming Men’s World Cup of Softball.