The proposed Howse Pass route. (Submitted)

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

The Howse Pass shortcut to British Columbia is worth taking another look at, says an economic development coalition of central Alberta communities.

Building another route through the mountains and linking it to central Alberta has been raised on and off for decades.

Perhaps, the most recent serious look at the idea came in 2005, when an economic pre-feasibility study was done that estimated nearly $400 million in economic benefits.

READ MORE: B.C. government responds to proposal for Howe Pass shortcut

Central Alberta Economic Partnership chair John Vandermeer said they would like to undertake an economic development study for the region, which would include a reassessment of the viability of the Howse Pass route, which would shave 95 kilometres off the route from central Alberta to Kamloops, B.C.

The drive from Red Deer to Kamloops by way of Calgary is about 760 kilometres. Howse Pass would turn the Kamloops drive into a shorter journey, linking Highway 11 with the Trans-Canada Highway, about 30 kilometres west of Golden, B.C.

“We need to update (the 2005 study) and see if there are other contributing factors that may better support the development of Howse Pass,” said Vandermeer, a Clearwater County councillor.

“There were quite a number of reasons why we should consider it back in 2005.”

“Of course, at this point in time, there is a lot more industrial activity in central Alberta. Also, there’s the tourist component.

“We’d just like an update and see if there is an even stronger case for moving ahead with that project.”

Vandermeer said a number of central Alberta municipal leaders are interested in the potential economic boost to central Alberta should a new mountain route be available.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood, a past chair of the partnership and now vice-chair, said recently, there appears to be growing interest in the prospect of building the route, which he wants to see considered as part of a broader survey of potential economic development opportunities in the region.

The idea was brought up at a recent meeting between partnership representatives and government officials, he said. The message from government was that clear support would have to be shown for the initiative and that it be a toll road.

A similar approach was taken in B.C., when the Coquihalla Highway was built between Kamloops and Hope. About $845 million — the construction cost of the highway — was collected over 22 years and then the toll booths were taken away in 2008.

“Clearly, (a toll road) would make it more feasible, given the current fiscal situation in Alberta,” Wood said.

“The more financially viable we can make the proposal, the more likely it is to get support. So, a toll road is one of the possibilities.”

Support from B.C. and Alberta, and the federal government and various regulatory approvals, would be required for anything to go ahead.

There will be opposition. Environmental groups have long opposed another highway through the wilderness. Federal permission would also be needed to run 34 kilometres of roadway through Banff National Park.

Before any studies get done, the partnership needs to find out what provincial government support for the 33-municipality organization will be.

The Central Alberta Economic Partnership received a $100,000 grant for years, which was then boosted to $200,000 under the NDP government.

How much is coming this year likely won’t be known until the Feb. 27 provincial budget.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Transportation

Just Posted

So Vancouver Island, you want to defund your police?

Examining what a nearly $10 million RCMP contract gets the people of Campbell River

Opioid crisis and COVID-19 pressing issues for mid-Island’s new medical health officer

Dr. Mike Benusic has been working in his new role with Island Health since July 2

Textured mats at Saanich intersections guide pedestrians with visual impairments

Yellow ‘tactile tiles’ make crossing busy intersections safer, District says

Vancouver Island officials can ‘only educate and encourage’ people to social distance

Leaders plead for education, as municipality lacks authority to enforce social distancing in public

Throwback: Parksville Makerspace shows off old Commodore 64 computer

Open house takes place Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Need a doctor in Sooke? You may be in luck

In anticipation of recruiting more doctors, medical clinic accepting applications for a waitlist

Poles mark growing bond between BC Hydro, Campbell River First Nations

Totem poles placed on the John Hart dam site a symbol of a stronger relationship

COVID-19: Modified beach volleyball a hit in Parksville

Organizer happy to get popular summer game going

Nanaimo Fringe Festival productions adapt to new online format

10th annual festival to be live-streamed due to COVID-19

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

Most Read