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Success Story > Two Linden Projects: What a Local Agricultural Society Can Do

Linden - walking trailAgricultural societies formed as a way of improving the quality of life in rural communities. As Sandy Simmie (president of the Linden and District Agricultural Society) says, “we’re interested in anything that will improve day-to-day life in rural areas.”

Linden’s Agricultural Society has been heavily involved in two projects to improve the lives of local older adults.

According to Sandy, 46 per cent of the population in the Linden area is over 50, and 35 per cent of the population is over 65.

In an area with many seniors, it makes sense to promote projects that encourage older adults to be physically active.

Linden, Alberta
The projects: Linden residents noticed that not many older adults were using a local outdoor trail because it was difficult to climb a hill on the trail. The community put in a railing, and now the trail is used more. The local Agricultural Society was a prime mover in getting this project off the ground. The Society is now working on a proposal for a multipurpose activity centre that will benefit older adults and other local residents.
Population: About 650
Main industry: Agriculture
Nearest large town: Three Hills (about 30 kilometres away)

The Two Projects

The Coulee Valley Handrail Project

Ken Peckham is both vice-president of the local Agricultural Society and a member of the Coulee Park Handrail Project committee.

Ken says that the Coulee Park trail was “put in quite a few years ago.” But some Linden residents (for example, local seniors) found it hard to get up and down the hill on the trail.

As Ken says, “We wanted the trail to be more useful. A simple answer was to put a handrail in.”

The original idea came from members of the Linden and District Agricultural Society, although Ken says that there “were lots of hands in the project.”

Town workers helped by using their equipment to transport the railing to the site and then storing the railing before building. The project also got a $2,600 grant from the local municipal district, Kneehill County.

Ken singles out two local companies (Courtney Berg Industries and S & G Bobcat Services). Both companies’ employees volunteered materials and time to help out with the project.

With this help and that of many local volunteers, the community finished the new railing in October 2007. Ken is proud of the 460-foot steel railing, which “should last many years.”

Linden - walking trailThe local newspaper, the Three Hills Capital, helped to publicized the new railing by publishing an article on the project.

Ken says that many people have told him how much they appreciate the railing. He expects to see a big difference next summer in the number of people able to use the trail.

Ken’s advice for other communities starting projects like this: “The biggest thing for any project is a good volunteer base.”

Multipurpose Activity Centre

The community is so fired up about physical activity that they are now putting together a proposal for a “birth till death” multipurpose activity centre. Sandy Simmie says that the concept has been in the discussion stage for “about five or six months.”

The new centre would fill a local gap. Right now, according to Sandy, the town has “two banks but no health facilities.” “Investing” in your health is one way to ensure that you enjoy your financial investments during retirement.

The proposed centre would include a multipurpose gymnasium, workout centre, health and wellness centre, climbing wall and indoor walking trail. Part of the plan is to use “green” construction and renewable energy to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

However, Sandy emphasizes that the plan is to offer not just recreation and fitness. The new centre would also offer health-care delivery, social programs, a heritage centre, continuing education and agricultural programs for adults, a youth centre, and a meeting space for area residents – all under one roof.

One of the benefits of the new centre would be to provide a place for local seniors to exercise inside during the winter months and meet socially. Older adults would also be able to access other services during one trip. For example, they would be able to exercise and visit their chiropractor and foot specialist during the same visit.

At this point, the agricultural society is finalizing the concept, looking for funding (possibly from a provincial lottery fund) and lobbying local decision-makers such as their MP and MLA to support the project.

They are also meeting with local and regional residents, including older adults, to determine the kind of facility that would work best both in Linden and the region.

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