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Stretch of cherished Chilliwack river trail temporarily rerouted

The black line indicates the route of the alternate trail being built this week to be used as a detour while reconstruction of the riverbank is completed. - Canada Lands Company
The black line indicates the route of the alternate trail being built this week to be used as a detour while reconstruction of the riverbank is completed.
— image credit: Canada Lands Company

When a stretch of trail through the woods near the Vedder River is completed in a couple weeks, it will be the most scenic detour in Chilliwack.

Frequent Rotary Trail users—and there are thousands of them—will have already noticed work in the forest near the river on a stretch east of Peach Road.

The work underway is being done by Canada Lands Company who are developing River's Edge, a 50-acre mixed housing development on a piece of untouched federal land along the Vedder River.

Between 350 and 500 units are planned for the project, along with "green streets" running through the area right to the river.

As part of the development, Canada Lands has been ordered to rebuild the riverbank next the trail to withstand the rapid fall/winter flows of the Vedder.

Approximately 600 metres of riverbank will be rebuilt, most of which is adjacent to the Rotary Trail.

Canada Lands is well aware of how important the Rotary Trail is to the community, so a public information booth has been set up right on the trail at Peach Road.

"It is a treasured kind of thing in our community," Canada Lands real estate director Ken Dueck told the Times, pointing to data that shows the thousands of people use the trail every week.

Starting Monday, crews began work on an alternate trail through the woods that will serve as a detour while bank reconstruction is underway.

And it all has to happen fast.

"We need to be done by Sept. 15," Dueck said.

That's because Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ministry of Environment require the work to be done to avoid damaging fish runs.

The alternate trail being built this week is scheduled for completion Aug. 1. It runs along an existing path through blackberries and Cottonwood trees, and was widened and resurfaced to allow for bikes, strollers and normal trail use.

As for the completed Rotary Trail, it will look much the same but the riverbank will be reinforced with larger riprap rock. The vegetation will be removed but replaced.

And, what may disappoint some people, some or all of the trees along the 600-metre stretch will have to be removed. Any tree leaning into the river will definitely be gone. Dueck said, however, that as many of the large trees that can be retained will be.

"I've never seen a company that is so sensitive to trees," he said.

Once all the work is done, the alternate trail will remain and Canada Lands will clean out blackberries, other undergrowth and any unstable trees.

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