The Highway 3 Twinning Development Association met in August and it was at that meeting where a strategic plan was unveiled in hopes of moving a step forward of getting the highway twinned.
Twinning Association member and County of Forty Mile Coun. Chantel Timmons brought an overview to council’s Sept. 26 meeting.
“On behalf of the southern Albertans, the Highway Twinning Development Association will promote and work proactively and constructively with provincial and federal government for the purpose of twinning Highway 3 from the British Columbia border to Medicine Hat at the earliest possible date,” is the twinning association’s mission statement via their website.
Their vision is to see Highway 3 become a safe, regional economy support “spine” of the provincial and national transportation network.
The strategic plan was outlined to lobby the government for support and to make them aware of the next steps taken in the future to keep the project on track.
Promotion of the completion of the highway twinning through finding alternative funding options and partnership opportunities for the highway twinning association is the objective. The development of five year-business plan will include staffing for the mission of the association will also have to be established.
A collaboration between the twinning association and Alberta Transportation will have to form to define what shovel readiness and ground breaking areas along the highway are.
Additionally a relationship could be formed with Indigenous communities along Highway 3 to encourage a leap forward because community safety is a high priority.
“Our council definitely does not want to see it gone,” said Timmons.
“They want to continue proactively moving forward with the Highway 3 to a point . They said they were willing to put a line in the budget to help them, depending on what it came back as per capita. They could not guarantee they could throw all kinds of money at it, but I think in order to keep it on track, is something they’re willing to support.”
Support has been garnered from local MLAS, ministers and Lethbridge MP Rachel Harder’s office, where there as been three to five MLAs at every meeting, she added.
“I feel like that’s something we’ve gained some traction on,” said Timmons.
“It’s talked about more. Everybody sees the need. When Highway 3 is brought up, they wish to see (it) even on the unfunded program.
“We’ve made some ground, just not enough to get it on the priority list.”
Darren Davidson, the regional director for Alberta Transportation, brings back a monthly progression and with all studies and a shelf life being done, the window for putting a shovel in the ground would still be about five years.
“Southern Alberta is such a hot spot,” she said.
“We have so much land available and the population is not here. To me it’s where people want to develop but because we don’t have the population, it doesn’t warrant the amount of dollars needed to build the highway.”
Meanwhile, another topic of discussion at the council meeting relating to the highway was the twinning association’s future being in question as several municipalities have expressed the reluctance to continue a modest level of financial support.
Timmons said the immediate local areas such as the county, the Town of Bow Island, Cypress County, Medicine Hat and Redcliff already have an Economic Development Alliance (EDA) and that those municipalities are not wanting to pay that fee twice for EDA and in turn have the highway twinned.
“It more of how are we going to look at this in our scope,” says Timmons.
“Our broad scope is 100 per cent to see this twinned and it will benefit our community with the safety of economics and greater ease with travel all in one. Our main track is not putting on the binders and not worrying about safety.”