The Rail Trail

Kristin van Vloten

A walking/biking trail through the Rail District and Historic Downtown Abbotsford is in development.

Reuben Koole, a senior planner with the City of Abbotsford, says one of the questions he hears frequently is: “How can we stitch this neighbourhood together?”

The Rail Trail is one really great answer. Infinity Properties, the company behind the mixed-use development planned for the former Clayburn Brick Plant site, is delivering that answer with input from the City. According to current plans, it will be a multi-purpose trail following the Canadian Pacific Railway that allows people to walk and bike through a connected neighbourhood.

Kiegan Scharnberg, Development Manager with Infinity, explains why the project matters: “It’s a valuable thing to create because of the connectivity and walkability it provides. The Rail Trail will connect the existing single family neighborhoods on the west side of McCallum through the Clayburn site to Historic Downtown. From there people will be able to continue on to the Rail District market and down to Field House.

“The area really needs this. As it is, you can access all of these places by foot, but it’s a completely different experience when you’re forced to walk down busy roads. This trail will be beautifully designed and safe.”

As a community enhancement project, the Rail Trail is a good example of the productive partnerships that can exist between developers and the City. Reuben explains that Infinity’s plan to create the trail was part of collaborative discussions. Infinity’s proposal was in line with the City’s plan for the neighborhood—a plan that reflects consultation with citizens through its Historic Downtown Neighbourhood Plan process.

“From the City’s perspective, which is based on the work we did finding out what citizens want for the future of Abbotsford, connection is important,” Reuben explains. “How do we connect north to south and east to west?”

As the Rail Trail is completed in stages over time, it will offer unique, fun experiences to the community. For example, Kiegan describes plans for the Clayburn Plaza that will be part of the brick plant site development. “The trail will connect with this plaza that holds coffee shops, restaurants, and food trucks. You can take a long walk through the neighborhood, and end up somewhere you want to have dinner.”