City planning on redirecting Rotary Trail after erosion near 16th Avenue West

City crews have put up fencing along the Rotary Trail near 16th Avenue West, or kilometre 19 of the trail, after significant erosion reported on Thursday. (Jayda Taylor/Daily Herald)

The City of Prince Albert is preparing to realign a portion of the Rotary Trail after a soil erosion report earlier this week.

Director of Public Works Wes Hicks said he was made aware on Thursday that the riverbank had collapsed near 16 Avenue West, or kilometre 19 of the trail. He estimated that it occurred within the last week, likely within the past few days.

Crews fenced off the area on Friday morning.

Hicks said the city is planning on realigning the trail away from the riverbank, but he’s unsure of when that will take place.

“It’s getting late into the season and, frankly, we didn’t have any budget for that, so we do have to search some of our different paving and trail capital projects to see if there’s any room to get one more little project in this fall,” he said.

There’s no immediate concerns of further erosion, according to Parks Manager Tim Yeaman, who went with Hicks to assess the area.

“What we’re concerned about is possibly with the rise in the water in the spring in the river, what that may do to further erosion within that site,” said Yeaman.

This is the third time the city has had issues with soil breaking off towards the Rotary Trail. Hicks said it happened a couple of years ago near 18th Avenue West, and then earlier this year near 12th Avenue West.

“We had a similar issue at approximately 12th Avenue West and each year, it was getting closer and closer to the Rotary Trail. This spring, which had one of the highest runoffs in 35 years, it washed away several metres of embankment,” explained Hicks.

Crews completed realigning the Rotary Trail there just this week, redirecting it away from the river and into the trees. The length of the trail remains exactly the same, as will the realignment at the 16th Avenue West location.

Hicks said that as fall approaches and the water levels drop, the soil starts to dry out. It then becomes unstable and starts to break off.

He encouraged the public to always be cautious near the river, and to not stand too close to the riverbank.

“Many places along the riverfront inside the city are quite elevated above the water, so there is quite a drop off and the ground can always be unstable,” said Hicks.

“It’s probably especially susceptible this year because of the very high water we had this spring.”

Yeaman said realigning the Rotary Trail near 16th Avenue West may be brought before council as a 2021 budget item.