Over a hundred cyclists pedalled through the breathtaking Blakiston Valley in Waterton Lakes National Park on Saturday, October 1, 2016. The ever-popular Ride the Red Rock event returned to the park for its sixth year. This year, participants had the added benefit of cycling along a newly-rebuilt Red Rock Parkway. At the event, Parks Canada celebrated the completion of the parkway, as well as improvements to Highway 5/6.
The Red Rock Parkway and Highway 5/6 are two of the first Federal Infrastructure Investment (FII) projects completed in Waterton Lakes National Park. These two significant projects, worth a combined $13 million, were finished ahead of schedule and under budget. Both roadways were resurfaced to address ongoing deterioration and received much-needed drainage improvements. More than 42 kilometres of resurfaced roadway will ensure Canadians have excellent and reliable access to Waterton Lakes National Park.
The work does not stop when the construction is done. Large volumes of top soil were salvaged along the Red Rock Parkway and replaced after construction to preserve rough fescue grasslands, contributing to the field unit’s Conservation and Restoration initiative. Parks Canada has also seeded disturbed areas to promote the growth of the native grass community. Such restoration efforts ensure the long-term rehabilitation of native vegetation within the park.
Parks Canada is investing an unprecedented $3 billion dollars over five years to support infrastructure work to heritage, visitor, waterway and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas across Canada. These investments represent the largest federal infrastructure plan in the history of Parks Canada. In Waterton Lakes National Park, a total of over $107 million is being invested to support visitor experiences and conservation.
- Upgrading the Red Rock Parkway was projected to cost $5.1 million, and rehabilitation work on Highway 5/6 was projected to cost $10.6 million. Parks Canada was fortunate to come out under budget on both projects due to the price of oil, as contracts were awarded for $5 million for the Red Rock Parkway and $8 million for Highway 5/6.
- Improvements to the Red Rock Parkway include newly resurfaced pavement, replacement of undersized culverts, and the lower parking lot rebuilt. Highway 5 and Highway 6 were rehabilitated to address ongoing deterioration and increase safety through resurfacing, guardrail replacement and drainage improvements.
- The projects were completed early due to a number of factors. This past year, Wateron Lakes National Park had mild winter weather, coupled with capable and proficient local contractors who each had a collaborative approach to project execution. Notably, Parks Canada completed the entire length of the Chief Mountain Highway a year early, as the project was originally scheduled to span into the winter of 2017.
- The Red Rock Parkway is the best place to experience Waterton’s classic “where the prairie meets the mountain” landscape. The Chief Mountain Highway, also known as Highway 6, is the primary route between Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Parks. The highway climbs from grasslands to a viewpoint which offers a magnificent panorama of the Waterton and Blakiston valleys. En route to the international border crossing, the highway passes through wetlands and the site of the Sofa Mountain fire.
- In Waterton Lakes National Park, a total of over $107 million is being invested to support visitor experiences and conservation. These investments will ensure the quality and reliability of visitor facilities to Waterton’s almost 500,000 annual visitors and continue to allow Canadians to connect with nature.
- “Investments like these will ensure the quality and reliability of visitor facilities and continue to
allow Canadians to connect with nature” – Ifan Thomas, Field Unit Superintendent
- “In Waterton Lakes National Park, more than $107 million is being invested. This represents a
lasting legacy for the almost 500, 000 visitors the Park receives annually, and the millions of
visitors the Park will receive in years to come.” – Ifan Thomas, Field Unit Superintendent