The resurfacing of the Burns Lake track is another step closer to reality after the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako committed $40,000 to support the project.
School District No. 91, which owns the track near Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS), had requested the regional district’s assistance in the form of federal gas tax funding.
Re-leveling and resurfacing the track with asphalt was first proposed in 2018, when a group of residents including Sandra Barth, Bernice Magee and Kay Saul wrote a letter to the village council.
The gravel-based track, they wrote, poses problems for users such as impeding smooth movement for those pushing buggies, using canes or riding bicycles. There are also issues with the track’s drainage structure, which causes water to pool and form icy patches in the fall and spring.
Mike Skinner, the school district’s assistant superintendent, said a paved track would allow for easier snow removal and a safer level surface.
“The gravel-based track at the high school has been a mainstay for decades and even though it meets the needs of the high school, upgrades would greatly benefit our community users,” said Skinner, adding the track has been an ideal location for many residents to meet and walk during Burns Lake’s dark and snowy months.
“In winter, many of the Burns Lake roads are unsafe for walking or exercise due to the steep grades and large snowbanks,” said Skinner. “The LDSS track upgrades will enable individuals to use the track all year.”
The total cost of the project, to be contracted out to LB Paving, has risen to $155,000 – $170,000 (depending on final designs) from the earlier estimate of $100,000, said Skinner.
The $40,000 committed by the regional district’s Electoral Areas B and E includes the $6,000 grant in-aid pledged to the Burns Lake and District Seniors Society for the track scheme last summer.
The project has also received community donations and other contributions, including $12,500 from the Royal Bank of Canada. A sign was posted on the track’s fence last summer welcoming donations of $20 per square metre.
The Village of Burns Lake has also supported the project. In November of 2018, village council instructed staff to write a letter of support and search for grant funding. The municipality has also committed to removing sand from the track in the spring.
Approximately $100,000 has been raised so far, but some of these donations have yet to be confirmed, said Skinner, adding he hopes the remainder of the funding will be in place in 2020.