Why is a formal Benson Creek crossing being considered?
Benson Creek runs through the centre of the park and there are well-used trails on both the north and south sides of the creek. Now, visitors use a fallen log to cross the creek, which is not safe and has the potential to become dislodged in the future. The fallen log is not a feasible public recreational crossing. A bridge will provide a better alternative, strengthening the trail network in the park.
Why are improvements needed for access to the base of Ammonite Falls?
Today, people descend a steep ravine to reach the base of Ammonite Falls, one of the most sought-after views in the park. Over the past several years, awareness and popularity of the falls has grown and has resulted in significant erosion of the ravine bank and the addition of unauthorized ropes to assist with the climb. An improved access will address environmental impacts and provide a safe, more manageable access for park visitors.
Why are the "natural challenges" at the park being improved?
While some visitors enjoy the challenge of scrambling down the banks to Ammonite Falls and traversing the fallen log over the creek, the increasing environmental impacts of these activities are affecting the forest and the creek. Provision of a route that is accessible to a wider range of abilities was identified as a priority in the 2014 Management Plan.
Will these improvements encourage even more visitors at the park?
The crossing and access improvements being considered are modest in scale and are not likely to be a significant draw to the park themselves. However, it is anticipated that the park’s popularity will continue to grow as more people become aware of it.
What other improvements are being undertaken?
The main upgrades will be the Benson Creek crossing and the descent to Ammonite Falls. Alongside these improvements, minor trail upgrades are planned to address eroded and overly steep sections, close short-cuts, and encourage revegetation along the existing routes.
In addition to the improvements in the park, the RDN is simultaneously planning a new parking lot on Weigles Road to improve park access from the north.
When will the projects be built?
Detailed design work is currently underway. Project construction is expected to begin in 2020.
Will the trails or structures impact existing trees?
The concepts consider locations of existing healthy trees and the routes shown are intended to minimize potential impacts to them. Some improvements are proposed to help protect existing tree roots by re-aligning trails or adding crib stairs. Very few, if any, trees are anticipated to be removed. During construction designs will be refined to fit site conditions, further reducing potential tree impacts.
Will the improvements have environmental impacts?
It is anticipated that the projects will have an
overall environmental benefit for the park, by reducing erosion and encouraging
revegetation in areas that have been previously impacted. Environmental impacts during construction will be
mitigated through preparation and use of an environmental protection plan and
application of environmental best practices such as working within required
construction windows and erosion control measures.
Did you consider other potential locations for the Benson Creek crossing?
Yes, initial investigations looked at the entire creek for potential crossing locations within the park boundary. During this initial analysis, no locations were identified that were significantly more suitable for developing the crossing. Using the existing “fallen log” location allows existing trails to be used, keeping costs lower and minimizing environmental impacts associated with developing new trails.
Will the existing fallen log at Benson Creek be removed?
There are no current plans to remove the existing fallen log
although trail access to the log will be decommissioned once the bridge
crossing is in place.