You can help plan a horse-friendly park

Members of the equestrian community are being given a golden opportunity to participate in the formation of a master plan for Aldergrove Lake Park.

Members of the equestrian community are being given a golden opportunity to participate in the formation of a master plan for Aldergrove Lake Park.

This is the first time a management plan has been undertaken for Aldergrove Lake Park.

“There is a lot of land banked, that is not currently in use, that will become part of a future vision for the entire 280-hectare parcel. We will be going to the horse community for more input on general and specific issues,” said Valoree Richmond, east area park planner for Metro Vancouver.

Once a master park management plan is prepared, funds will be allocated to develop the plan.

Valoree has owned a horse, and is quite familiar with some of the issues related to trail riding and multi-use trails.

Two active B.C. equestrian groups are keen to take advantage of a chance to create a much-needed venue for their sport.  One is the BC Carriage Club, and the other is the BC Miniature Horse Club, both of which have a lot of members from Langley.

Shirley Bradley and Karen McGregor are members of both, and have been trying to get a foothold for carriage driving in Campbell Valley Park for years. They see a chance to participate in the management plan for Aldergrove Lake Park as a great step forward towards their goal.

“We would love a place to practice for CDE’s (competitive driving events) and to drive on trails,” said Shirley.

Both Shirley and Karen say the biggest potential challenge for drivers and trail riders face is the danger posed by off-leash dogs.  Shirley referred to a series of accidents caused by the interaction of horses and dogs that were reported by riders in Island 22 in Chilliwack.

She and Karen both want to make the point that some users groups do not mix safely on the same trail.

“My horse isn’t OK with all dogs, and vice versa.  I’ve tried telling dog owners who turn their dogs loose on the horse trails in Aldergrove Lake Park that my horse might kick a dog and cause serious injury.  Sometimes the dog owners take offense.  Riders and drivers need to feel safe on the trails,” said Karen.

Karen has managed to get a permit from Metro Parks to drive her minis in the big field near the riding ring in Campbell Valley Park, but finds the rough, uneven ground hard to manage.

“The trails in Aldergrove Lake Park are wonderful.  We’d like an opportunity to drive on them.  In Europe, they do it all the time,” said Karen.

Park planner Valoree commented that it is generally accepted that off-leash dogs and horses are not compatible trail users. That’s where good planning comes in.

Metro Parks is considering generating revenue from its park system by offering what Valoree terms “luxury” services like food concessions and dog washing stations. A campground in the park is also an idea under consideration.

Horse riders and drivers can share their opinions on the Aldergrove Lake Park management plan online with Metro Parks at:

http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/parks_lscr/AldergroveLakePlanning/Pages/default.aspx

Anne Patterson is a local freelance writer and horse enthusiast.

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