Knee-hill County celebrates future of Horseshoe Canyon
County makes improvements to attraction
Knee-hill County and its partners celebrated a new chapter in Horseshoe Canyon history.
The County, along with neighbouring municipalities, as well as Communities in Bloom, Travel Alberta, CN Eco-Connexions and Tree Canada were at the site to celebrate the new direction of the attraction.
Earlier this summer, Knee-hill County purchased a large portion of Horseshoe Canyon. It, along with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, own more than 400 acres of the site, which has become a large attraction. Knee-hill Reeve Bob Long reported that more than 150,000 people this year have stopped to take in the vista or go for a hike.
“We know the impact of tourism in this region, we are just trying to take one little area of it and enhance that experience, and work from it,” said Long.
In the short time since the purchase, Knee-hill has made some improvements to the site. Long explains the major concerns were safe access to the canyon for hikers and to reduce erosion. To that end, they installed a stairway to make the descent into the canyon safer. They also made improvements to a few of the initial paths and installed platforms for viewpoints on the top of the canyon as well as a couple within the canyon.
Long said the improvements are modest in order to preserve the vitality of the canyon itself. They are looking as a few more amenities just off the parking area.
“The final plan is still to be developed, but initially we had to address erosion issues and the safety issue,” said Long. “It was extremely difficult for people to get down in the valley, it wasn’t safe and most people coming don’t understand bentonite. When you step on it when it is wet, you get to the bottom of the canyon faster than you had planned!”
The project has the support of a $25,000 grant, made possible through the generosity of CN Rail and its Eco-Connexions From the Ground Up program and its partners, Communities in Bloom and Tree Canada.
“With the trees and donations from Communities in Bloom and CN, there will be some further relax--
ation areas in the top being built with some benches and some trees planted in the lot area,” he said. “We are looking at the future, we are looking at little improvements, we don’t ever want to take away from the beauty of the site. How can you improve on the natural beauty of it?”
Generations have enjoyed Horseshoe Canyon. Originally, the land was purchased by the late Jack Lowen Senior in 1946 and was used as pasture on the upper plateaus. The land was passed down through the generations of the family until July of this year when it was sold to Knee-hill. The County has an agreement to continue the long-term stewardship and preservation the area and public access.
“The beauty speaks for itself. The attraction is here, we just have to manage it,” he said. Partners cutting the ribbon at Horseshoe Canyon include (l-r) Cal Dallas, senior development officer at Olds College, Marti Eberth of Travel Alberta, Brent Kossey of CN, Knee-hill Reeve Bob Long, Shel- ley Groll-muss of Travel Alberta, Berta Biggs of Communities in Bloom and Bowen Klausen of Knee-hill County.
Kneehill County purchased a large portion of Horseshoe Canyon last July and sion to the iconic site. Last Friday, the County gathered with its partners to celhave already made some minor additions to improve safety and to prevent ero- ebrate the new ownership and stewardship of the site.