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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDCK prepares anti-discrimination, anti-racism policies

Also: building codes, wildfire mitigation, parks openings, and Winlaw boardwalk

LETTER: Prepare a go bag

From reader Jane Merks

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Capitol Theatre issues call for homegrown talent

Theatre, music, dance, comedy, readings – if you can do it on stage, you can send in a submission

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit Bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Woman who talked to unconscious husband for 30 years gets solace from B.C. study

Ian Jordan suffered a head injury when he and another officer were on their way to a call in Victoria in September 1987

RCMP investigate threat against Indigenous totem poles on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast

Police describe the nature of the threat as ‘sensitive’

Trail RCMP officer accused of criminal harassment, forcible entry

BCPS: The charges against Murchie date between 2017 and 2020

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Most Read