A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

About new fencing on Santiam Canal

Written June 20th, 2024 by Hasso Hering

Looking south from 12th Avenue along the Santiam Canal on Tuesday, June 18, 2024.

A line of new fence posts drew my attention this week along a section of the Albany-Santiam Canal. It brought to mind the stories I did six years ago about this very spot.

Early in 2018, neighborhood resident Jim Ketter tried to get Albany city officials to remove the barbed wire on the canal fencing through the Monteith Historic District. To him the rusted wire looked ugly and didn’t belong in a residential neighborhood like this.

Ketter was suffering from a brain tumor, and a few months later he died.

The city didn’t do what he had asked. Even though the CARA  urban renewal plan of 2001 called for enhancing the canal as an attraction, city officials cited regulations and insurance requirements as reasons for keeping the fences and barbed wire.

So what about the new fence going up  on the west side of the canal south of 12th Avenue?

“The fence is being replaced as part of routine maintenance for the canal,” Kristin Preston, operations manager in Albany Public Works, told me via email. She added:

“This section of old fencing is sagging in places and cut in others and is time to be replaced. Yes, it will have the barbed wire at the top as required by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that regulates the canal and hydro) and the city’s insurance carrier. The new fence will look just like the other replaced sections and will be the black vinyl-coated type that looks a bit nicer than the old galvanized metal fence.”

South of 12th Avenue, the canal runs between raised berms, which because of their slope are not ideal for strolling along the banks even if  there was no fence.

But no matter what federal regulators or insurance companies say, barbed wire on top of the fence still seems excessive. What kind of mischief would three strands of barbed wire prevent if a 6-foot chain-link fence is not enough? (hh)

2 responses to “About new fencing on Santiam Canal”

  1. Mac says:

    The Santiam canal is wasted, being only a source of clean water for our cities utility needs. It could be beautified with water features and walking paths. Excess water could be diverted into wading pools for the summer, at Bryants. It is a rare and unique resource, and most of it is dumped into the equally ignored Callapooia river. But hey, lets spend millions on the disgusting, warm and polluted Waverly Lake.

  2. Coffee says:

    Hasso: You don’t think young thrill-seekers can scale a 6 ft. chain link fence with no barbed wire at the top…and then commence to have a drunken swimming party in the canal??? That “plan” in 2001 for how Albany residents would spend the urban renewal (CARA) taxpayer’s money was explained at a council meeting (I was there) as “tell us what your dreams would be for Albany.” In other words, it was a fantasy…not a plan designed by urban planners who knew what was practical and what wasn’t. The canal is part of a water system. It is not for recreation..


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