MD of Bighorn council agreed Tuesday (Jan. 8) to put $25,000 towards the final piece of the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail which, once completed, will link the Banff National Park east gates to the Travel Alberta visitor information centre in Canmore.
The Bow Corridor Regional Mobility Partnership is planning to build the final section of trail along the south side of the Trans-Canada Highway at a cost of $2.1 million.
Even though the bulk of this section of trail passes through the MD of Bighorn, MD planner Tracy Woitenko said the overall benefit to the MD is likely to be low, even if $25,000 does not seem like a great amount of money in the overall $2.1 million budget.
“It doesn’t go that far. The MD is a large piece of land, but we have a limited tax base,” she told councillors. “We recognize the benefit of the trail to the MD is actually quite small and we recognize the greater benefit going to Canmore and Banff and the Province of Alberta.”
The Town of Canmore, meanwhile, has allocated $700,000 towards trails in its 2013 budget, some of which, Woitenko said, may be directed towards the Legacy Trail.
“The Town of Canmore believes it’s important to get people from the information centre into town,” Woitenko said.
Andy Esarte, the Town of Canmore’s manager of engineering, said Wednesday the Town has budgeted $700,000 in its 2013 capital budget to connect paved trails in Canmore to the Legacy Trail.
“What we want to do is have the network completely tied in so there aren’t any gaps,” Esarte said. “We expect that once that connection is made to the visitor information centre we’re going to see a lot more traffic through town trying to access the Legacy Trail.”
The trail on the south side would join the Legacy Trail where a pedestrian crossing will be built on Bow Valley Trail at the information centre.
“We expect people, if they’re coming in on the south side of Bow Valley Trail, will want to stay on that south side,” Esarte said.
The $700,000 is contingent on ensuring funding for the overall project is in place, he said.
“Both of those capital projects at this point are place markers more or less, so that if things fall into place, those trails will get built.”
MD Reeve Dene Cooper said contributing to the Legacy Trail shows support for the decision to move the proposed trail to the south side of the TCH from a first proposed route that would have linked it to the trail that runs along Harvie Heights Road.
“We can say we are available and here’s what we can afford rather than have someone else tell us what to contribute,” Cooper said, adding not contributing would send a negative message.
“We did indicate we were with the motion it if was on the south side,” he said.
Cooper added, however, that for the MD, $25,000 is no small amount, equaling its entire yearly community services budget.