Waterton Boundary Fence
Partnering with Parks Canada in the ambitious project of building a boundary fence along the entire length of Waterton Lakes National Park was a gratifying experience for the Westco team. Spanning approximately 44 kilometres from the park to the Canada/USA border, this fence serves the crucial purpose of demarcating the park boundary and protecting it from livestock from neighbouring ranches.
Our four-wire wood post boundary fence was carefully constructed, featuring top-quality materials such as Class 3 galvanized barbed wire, ACQ-treated wood posts and hot-dipped galvanized staples. The corner, brace and gate posts are reinforced with robust 7-8″ x 8′ long posts, complemented by 6″-7″ x 6′ and 7′ secondary brace posts as well as 6-7″ braces.
To complete the project, numerous environmental, wildlife and logistical challenges had to be addressed. Throughout the boundary zone, we encountered sensitive environmental and archaeological areas that required careful consideration during construction. Scheduling and executing the work were planned around factors like bird nesting, deer, moose, and elk mating seasons as well as bear hibernation.
Communication and coordination played a vital role in ensuring efficient access and minimal environmental impact. We collaborated closely with Parks Canada staff, private landowners, Alberta Environment, the municipal districts of Pincher Creek and Cardston, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and grazing leaseholders. This extensive collaboration ensures that we maintain the least disruptive approach to the environment.
An extensive survey was initially conducted to determine the true boundary location and the alignment of the existing fence. Once a four-meter-wide access path was brushed and cleared along the entire boundary, an additional construction survey was completed to align the new fence accurately. Finally, an as-built survey provided Parks Canada with a comprehensive visual representation of the fence alignment in relation to the park boundary.
Overcoming logistical challenges was a priority, and we employed a range of methods to transport workers, equipment and materials efficiently. Side-by-side UTVs, quads, and tracked skid steers facilitated daily access, while helicopters were utilized in remote and rugged areas to minimize environmental impact and optimize productivity.
In areas where equipment access was impossible, such as the challenging and environmentally sensitive Cloudy Ridge, our dedicated team constructed the fence entirely by hand. This meticulous approach extended to the removal of old fence materials, which was also carried out manually. Wetland areas, ravines and creek crossings were successfully tackled using this method.
Worker safety is of paramount importance at Westco, so two-way radios programmed with Parks Canada channels and private channels were employed for emergency communication In areas with limited or no cell phone service. We prioritized daily work planning, check-in procedures and comprehensive work reports to ensure the safety and well-being of our team members.
We take immense pride in partnering with Parks Canada on this challenging and long-term project, which harkens back to our roots. As we worked tirelessly to construct this boundary fence, we remained committed to upholding the highest standards of craftsmanship, environmental stewardship and worker safety.