Christmas has come and gone and if you didn’t get what you wanted under your proverbial community wish list, be patient, this year has lots in store for Cochrane.
Once considered the fastest growing community on the continent, Alberta’s ongoing recession has slowed our growth and left us in a place of restraint. Just like many of our current post-Christmas credit card bills, our list of wants exceed what we’re able to afford in the interim.
Last year saw our province elect the United Conservative Party. Our country (not Alberta) re-elected Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and after the UCP released their austerity-laden budget on Oct. 24, our town council finalized their own budget.
After the town’s budget was released Cochranites can expect to pay more in 2020 and onward. The trade-off though is hopefully you pay for what you get. Maybe living in Cochrane might become easier.
In no particular order the following projects are expected to come to fruition in 2020, and in some cases beyond this year.
The $10 million Cochrane’s Transit Hub and Innovation Outpost is expected to be built at the same time as the $2 million CP Rail pedestrian crossing included in the town’s 2020-2022 budget. The town anticipates that after the request for proposal is released construction will take place in the first quarter of 2020. Occupancy is scheduled for December 2020.
If all goes as planned the proposed three-story innovation centre will create and foster tech and innovation jobs, boost development interest in the Railway Street West, Grande Avenue and Bow Street corridor, and establish Cochrane as a leader in innovation and technology.
The much anticipated interchange at Highway 22 and Highway 1A was on everyone’s community wish list. The provincial budget contained allocations for $597 million for highway twinning, widening and expansion. A 2019 provincial construction program identified an interchange upgrade on Highway 1A on the northwest boundary of Cochrane and bridge replacement at the Big Hill Creek on Highway 1A at the northern boundary of Cochrane.
MLA Peter Guthrie assures Cochranites that the interchange will be built, but several delays mean the project probably won’t be complete in the next three years. As of right now, the project is still in the design phase and will remain there until it goes out to tender.
In late September town council approved an additional $900,000 for the construction of the new RCMP detachment to be built in Heartland. The additional funds put the project at $4.6 million and was needed to complete design and costing of the building which will house RCMP, town bylaw, victim services and Alberta Sheriff personnel.
With winter upon us construction of the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge has stopped, but will resume in May. The bridge and James Walker Trail is expected to open to traffic by this Fall. The entire project is estimated to cost $32.5 million and will include on-street bike lanes and a separated, parallel three-metre-wide multi-use pathway that connects with Cochrane’s existing pathway system.
So as we sail into a new decade let’s collectively take a look around and recognize the immense growth and progress that has taken ahold of our town. We might not get everything on our community wish list before the end of 2020, but it would appear that it will come - in time.