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

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

MARCH 28: Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance

White Rock council members stand by decision to close pier

Minimal push-back over closure to minimize chance of spreading COVID-19 virus

From lockdown in Italy to self-isolation in South Surrey

Like many returning citizens, Peninsula-raised James Bogart & Emily Schenk have a long journey ahead

Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance, respect closures

Not social distancing or obeying provincial orders in Delta could set you back hundreds of dollars

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Significant snowfall forecast for Interior mountain passes

Allison Pass, the Okanagan Connector, Rogers Pass and Kootenay Pass could see 15 to 25 cm of snow

Most Read

l -->