I am unsure if the people of Taber are aware Taber town council voted against allowing horseback riding in the river bottom area between the Taber Trout Pond and the M.D. of Taber Park.
Most councillors seem to believe horseback riding presents an imminent danger to the citizens of Taber, even though equestrians have been using this area for 30-plus years. I have been riding those trails since they actually were deer trails, starting in 1992. There were already other people riding out there. My family became the unofficial “stewards” of this region, trying to be good citizens â€” as well as sharing the land with others.
When people started destroying the ecosystem on motor bikes, quads/4X4s and underage parties, we tried to get help out there. When the camp kitchen and outhouses were thrown into the pond, we called the police. When kids started partying, drinking, driving, breaking glass and lighting fires, we called the police. When Heather Smith’s vehicle was stolen and driven into the pond, we called the police. The RCMP did respond to this one. When kids lit vehicles on fire and sent them down the coulees, we called the police.
Never were we helped, although a Town of Taber police meeting did occur and we were told, “well, kids have to party somewhere.”
My then-husband is the one who put the metal fence up on the south side of the Trout Pond, trying to keep the motorized vehicles out of that area.
I wrote an opinion letter to the Taber Times pleading with the town to do something with the “jewel in their backyard” â€” but nothing changed for years. I am beyond ecstatic this area has finally been cleaned up and developed.
As a group, the Southern Alberta Trail Riders Association, we requested from the town, a staging area to meet and park our rigs, suggesting the old Pro Rodeo grounds would be ideal.
There was talk of the bikers and equestrians not being compatible in this area and therefore at the town’s request, our equestrian group SATRA met with the bikers group, as well as a rep from the local running group. We came to an agreement on sharing some trails and having some for horses only. We also discussed doing spring clean up and trail grooming collaboratively. Equestrians and bikers can get along and share this beautiful area, as they do in any other area of the world.
We must respect and understand each other’s space, it is as simple as that. People love to see the horses and with the increase in activity in that area, there is also an increase of requests for pictures of our beautiful horses. Horses helped build this town of ours and to stop us from using this area would be very distressing to many people, equestrians or not. Remember, those trails were game trails long before they were groomed for biking. Most horses don’t need trails â€” but less experienced people and children riding them do.
Citizens of Taber, I implore you to see how this vote was conducted by your town council.
You can see the live stream of this March 22 town council meeting on the Town of Taber YouTube channel, beginning about 38 minutes in. It was sad to have our representation there, but the council itself not asking questions of our rep, instead, asking the biker rep â€” as well as the rec board rep, neither of whom had the answers they needed to make an informed decision.
Please talk to your town councillors and urge them to please reconsider this vote.
To the Taber town council itself, regarding the comment made “we can ride coulees anywhere” â€” we actually cannot. Please don’t let us down, all we are asking for is some common sense and river access. That is really all we need.
Katie O’Brien, Taber
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