2017 promises to be a banner year for Horseshoe Canyon west of Drumheller.
The popular roadside attraction was purchased last year from private owners, a move that Kneehill County Reeve Bob Long had sought for some time.
"I wonder if sometimes people really understood the impact of Horseshoe Canyon," he told 99.5 Drum FM. "There's in the neighborhood of, depending on how many people you think there are in cars, we had in excess of 125,000 vehicles through there this year (2016)."
Long noted the land owner wanted to sell because of liabiility concerns for visitors. With that in mind, he said they've made a number of changes.
"Access to the bottom of the canyon was really a bugbear, it was dangerous, so we built the steps down to the canyon and we built some observation platforms, and they seem to be working quite well," he recalled. "There's trails in the bottom that we're developing and we're putting signage up, just trying to make it a little bit more user friendly and protect it as well."
They also fixed up some erosion problems on the canyon's rim and there is even talk of putting in a campground beside the lookout.
"The philosophy of Kneehill County is we wouldn't compete with private industry and if someone wanted to do something there we would certainly back away and let that happen," maintained Long. "If someone comes forward with a plan we would certainly hold off anything we were doing until that was further down the trail."