Wapiti Recreation Area Management Plan

Background

Over the past 50 years, various organizations have extracted gravel from the public lands in the Wapiti River Valley. Today, all but one of the gravel pits (leases) have been depleted. 

In August 2016, working in close consultation with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and Alberta Transportation, the County of Grande Prairie Council approved a draft Management Plan for the Wapiti Recreation Area (also known locally as the depleted Wapiti gravel leases).

The Plan: to provide low-impact outdoor recreational opportunities through remediation of the gravel pits, resulting in the creation of new habitat and ecosystems.

Where: the land includes the 130 hectares of gravel leases on the north side of the Wapiti River, south of the power line, east of Highway 40, and west of the water line running from the Aquatera water storage site to Grande Prairie.

How will development be phased? The 75-hectare portion (Phase I) closest to Highway 40 is fully depleted of its gravel.  The remaining 55-hectare gravel pit (Phase II) to the east will not be ready to convert to recreational use until the rest of the gravel has been extracted by the holder of the existing lease, Wapiti Gravel Suppliers.

In November 2018 the County was notified by the Province that we have been successfully awarded a Recreation Lease for Phase I of this site.

Recreation Opportunities

Phase 1 - 2020-2024

The County of Grande Prairie hired ISL Engineering in the spring of 2018 to work with Council, Administration and Stakeholders to refine the Concept Plan for the site. In September 2018, the final concept was presented and approved by the Recreation Advisory Committee, with a recommendation to defer capital development of the site to 2020. During the Interim Budget deliberations for 2019-2021 County Council chose to not fund this project. While the project is unfunded at this time there is still an interest in promoting positive behaviours on site.

The Concept Plan for Phase I is divided into 3 key areas.

Area 1 - the Dog Park. This includes an off leash dog park, trails, washrooms and seating.

Area 2 - The Day Use Area. This includes trails, day use infrastructure, washrooms and weather shelters. 

Area 3 - The Performance Area. This includes trails, day use infrastructure, outdoor classroom space, and an amphitheatre. The Concept Plan shows a round dance arbor such as are utilized during Indigenous Pow Wow's and celebrations. Also shown is an area designated as a 'Sacred Healing' area. During very preliminary discussions with First Nations and Metis community members, it is clear that there is a need for dedicated First Nations and Metis programming space in our region. An extensive and comprehensive consultation must take place with a large scope of participants. The Concept Plan shows the spatial requirements for a sample of programming space that may be identified as suitable for this site. Far more planning is required before it can be determined if the WRA is the best local area for this infrastructure, and what infrastructure is truly required to meet this need.

The asphalt trail that is a part of the Clairmont to Nitehawk Adventure Park trail system remains a concept item until further information can be collected about the impacts that the twinning of Highway 40 will have on bank stability within the western portion of the site.

You can view the Concept Plan here [PDF - 20 MB].

Consultation Process

Public consultation on the Wapiti Recreation Area Management Plan took place in November 2017 and included a public meeting followed by an online survey (the survey was open to all residents, landowners and recreation users in the County of Grande Prairie, City of Grande Prairie, MD of Greenview and surrounding municipalities). You can view a summary of this consultation here. [PDF - 240 KB] Prior to that, the County obtained confirmation from the Aboriginal Consultation Office that adequate consultation had taken place with Horse Lake First Nation.

 

Contact
 

For more information about the Wapiti Recreation Area Management Plan, contact Christine Rawlins, Parks and Recreation Manager at 780-532-9727 or by email at wapitirec@countygp.ab.ca

To view the complete Wapiti Recreation Area Management Plan click here. [PDF - 1.5 MB]