Mu­nic­i­pal Gov’t Act changes could speed High­way 3 twin­ning

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - Alberta - BY J.W. SCH­NARR SOUTH­ERN AL­BERTA NEWS­PA­PERS

Changes to the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act could be just what mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties need along the High­way 3 cor­ri­dor to con­vince the provin­cial gov­ern­ment to fin­ish twin­ning it.

On Sept. 4, Lethbridge City Coun­cil heard from mem­bers of the High­way 3 Twin­ning De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion for an up­date on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s strate­gic plan com­pleted in June.

The goal was to up­date coun­cil on plans the as­so­ci­a­tion has mov­ing into 2019-20.

Harry Harker, with 1st Prin­ci­ple Con­sult­ing, was part of the pre­sen­ta­tion to coun­cil and said the as­so­ci­a­tion is look­ing to re­new its man­date and find new ways of cre­at­ing a wave of in­ter­est from out­side mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments to com­plete the twin­ning of High­way 3.

“We’ve un­der­taken a public en­gage­ment process,” he said.

“Work­ing with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, shar­ing ideas and com­ing up with a strate­gic plan that gives the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties a re­ally good plat­form to build on.

“Ob­vi­ously, the goal is to com­plete the twin­ning, but along the way, there needs to be bet­ter pro­mo­tion, bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion of how the twin­ning can ben­e­fit com­mu­ni­ties.”

“We need to el­e­vate the im­por­tance of High­way 3, not only for the city of Lethbridge, but for the en­tire re­gion of south­ern Al­berta,” said Mayor Chris Spear­man fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion.

He said the sin­gle-lane por­tions of High­way 3 west of Fort Macleod and east of Taber to Medicine Hat re­strict traf­fic, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, and cre­ate safety haz­ards for res­i­dents in the area.

“I think many of us can re­call some of the hor­rific ac­ci­dents that have hap­pened on High­way 3, al­most al­ways in the ar­eas that haven’t been twinned yet,” he said. “(There are) sig­nif­i­cant, se­ri­ous, safety is­sues that need to be ad­dressed.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion has been fo­cus­ing on the twin­ning of the high­way for years with limited suc­cess.

Safety is­sues have been iden­ti­fied for both pedes­trian and ve­hi­cle traf­fic at a num­ber of lo­ca­tions along the high­way that could only be ad­dressed through twin­ning. Twin­ning stud­ies for the high­way have been tak­ing place since the 1970s.

A cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis done by the Univer­sity of Lethbridge showed a ben­e­fit of 3-to-1 in terms of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment to cap­i­tal dol­lars in the re­gion.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has also iden­ti­fied that the lack of twin­ning has had an im­pact on growth in south­ern Al­berta.

Harker said there is a unique op­por­tu­nity, from a pol­icy per­spec­tive, since the provin­cial gov­ern­ment amended the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act.

In­ter­mu­nic­i­pal Col­lab­o­ra­tive Frame­works and In­ter­mu­nic­i­pal De­vel­op­ment Plans are now adopted poli­cies for mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments.

“If ev­ery mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the High­way 3 cor­ri­dor adopted sup­port­ing state­ments in their frame­works and in their plans, that’s an in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful state­ment that has never been there be­fore for the mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to use,” said Harker.

“I think it’s very im­por­tant we get that kind of una­nim­ity in terms of the state­ments. But also, we look for new part­ners, and find­ing ways of get­ting in­dus­try and post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in­volved to broaden the base of sup­port for this.”

Spear­man said the high­way cre­ates an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment mul­ti­plier when there is suf­fi­cient in­fra­struc­ture for trans­porta­tion in place.

“It en­cour­ages other busi­nesses to build here, and they can get ac­cess to mar­kets,” he said. “Trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture can flow smoothly down the road.”

“Busi­nesses in the city ship east and west, and peo­ple in the city travel for recre­ation pur­poses east and west. High­way 3 is a ben­e­fit to every­one in the city at some time, and we need to make sure High­way 3 is a vi­able choice.”

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