The Medicine Lodge Ski Hill Masterplan, which was approved by Bentley council in July, was recently presented to Lacombe County Sept. 14.
The plan is a starting point to continue conversations, provide guidance and a prioritized approach to ensure long-term asset management, look to the possibility of recreation expansion and develop future partnerships.
The project was funded via a partnership with Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP), who successfully applied for a grant through the Tourism Relief Fund, who contributed $50,000. Lacombe County contributed about $25,000, while the Town of Bentley also contributed $25,000.
“The total cost was just under $100,000 for the project, and it was significantly expensive due to the fact that there was a ton of engagement that we had to do in a very short period of time,” said Marc Fortais, chief administrative officer for the Town of Bentley.
Adjacent landowners were engaged with, the Medicine Lodge Ski Club, residents of both the County and Town through an open house, indigenous stakeholders, along with recreation clubs like the Red Deer Mountain Bike Club.
“The intent was to create a long overdue conversation. We all knew that the hill was a significant asset to all of central Alberta. It has cultural significance to indigenous people as well as cultural significance to the adjacent landowners that have lived around the hill for multi generations.”
The hill has been titled land through homestead titles since the 1930s, so there is a significant history through central Alberta and to indigenous stakeholders
Before they moved forward to explore other types of paths of recreation like trail systems, cross-country skiing and mountain biking trails, they wanted to ensure they had a good dialogue with stakeholders.
Going forward Fortais said they will be continuing their important conversations with their indigenous stakeholders.
“We’re building relationships with many of the bands in the area from Maskwacis, as well as O’Chiese and Sunchild, so looking at how we go about identifying if there are culturally significant sites of the hill and what we can look to do in partnership with them to make sure that we protect that before we would look to do any formal development up there.”