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Plans for Cochrane to Calgary trail unveiled

Stage 1 of a decade-long plan to connect Cochrane to Calgary was shared for the first time Tuesday afternoon

The plans for a trail from Calgary to Cochrane were unveiled Tuesday afternoon but the name of the trail is up to Albertans to decide. 

Pioneer families, including the Haskayne, Harvie, Copithorne and Robinson families who donated land to the project, were on hand to show more than 100 guests and dignitaries the plans for the multipurpose trail for the first time at the RancheHouse in Cochrane on Nov. 30.

The plans for a trail running through the Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park through to the city have been more than a decade in the making and Trail Steering Committee member Daniel Kroffat said it will run alongside the river and offer views of the vistas and Rocky Mountains. 

"This won't only enhance tourism in Alberta," he said. "We are creating recreation value." 

Cyclists, hikers and weekend strollers would be able to take to the trail that Kroffat hopes will eventually join up with the Legacy Trail in Canmore. 

The trail from Cochrane to Calgary would be about 38-kilometres in total, with much of the groundwork already having been laid through Glenbow Ranch and Haskayne Park reaching from the west side of Calgary.

According to members of the Trail Steering Committee, discussions are happening with the City of Calgary to work from the end of Haskayne Park's west side to meet construction crews coming from the east.

Kroffat hopes they can cut the ribbon somewhere in the middle.

The Trans Canada Trail stretches over 27,000 kilometres coast to coast, but the portion spanning from Calgary to Canmore, through Cochrane, is unfinished or is not usable.

"All we gotta do is carry on and finish it," said Kroffat. "We're going to have fundraising and sponsorship opportunities like purchasing bricks for the trail, tree planting and benches that will be auctioned off."

Chair of the steering committee Alex Baum said while the Rotary is orchestrating the project, it's going to take help from all Albertans to bring it to life. 

"Amazingly, our provincial and federal governments have budgeted funds for trails, but it all starts with grassroots, they just don't open up their personal handbook or a bucket of money — you have to show initiative," he said. 

"Grassroots fundraising initiatives, which you can see here today, are already underway."

The project is only in Stage 1, as Baum puts it. They have support from the federal and provincial government to go ahead and MP Blake Richards made it clear he backs the project through a video message played at the event. 

Namethetrail.com was also announced Tuesday, kicking off a provincewide contest to name the trail. 

Albertans can log on and fill out the form to help name the trail. There, participants can pitch their idea and write a brief explanation. 

"We want Albertans to be a part of it," Kroffat said. "This is a people's project, it's the people's trail at the end of the day. Everyone's a benefactor."

Lois Haskayne, who was in attendance for the unveiling event with her husband Canadian businessman Richard Haskayne, said the trail is necessary and pledged it be done with their involvement.

"We have friends having to lug their bicycles over the fences to get down to (Haskayne) Legacy Park, and that's unacceptable," she said.

Major fundraising and logistical efforts remain, the website reads, including the construction of a pedestrian river crossing into the town estimated at $3 million, according to fundraising goals. 

"I would really like, before we go on to our next adventure in life, to see the three parks and Cochrane joined together," said Haskayne. "I can tell you that if they could guarantee a road into Haskayne Park, Glenbow Park and into Cochrane — I can tell you that bridge will be built and we will see to it that it is. That's the caveat that we're putting on it."

The Haskaynes, along with the Robinson, Harvie and Copithorne families were honoured for their land donations to the project with a Men of Vision award featuring the Historic Cochrane Ranche brand of 1881 branded onto cattle hide.

The award is given to community members, leaders and dignitaries who have made signification contributions to the town of Cochrane.

The Cochrane Rotary Club will be overseeing the trail project and is seeking to partner with local businesses and organizations to raise funds and awareness to build it.

Eventually, the Rotary's vision is to see the trail form a loop that goes through the Tsuut'ina Nation lands, West Bragg Creek, Sibbald Flats and into Canmore, or coming back through Stoney Nakoda First Nation lands.