The Director of Advancement for H3TDA, Victoria Chester, speaking about the twinning of Highway 3. Nick Allen photo.
Nicholas L. M. Allen
May 17, 2023
“This phase is likely to take two or three years, depending on the region. We have had some communication with government that they will be speaking with members of the community.”
The Crowsnest Chamber of Commerce held a luncheon with members of the Highway 3 Twinning Association on May 10 at Country Encounters.
The Highway 3 Twinning Development Association (H3TDA) is a community and Industry-led initiative in southern Alberta advocating for the twinning of Highway 3 for over 20 years. Much of the progress that has happened along the corridor, from twinned sections to upgraded intersections and passing lanes, has been because of the influence their members have brought to bear on the issue in Edmonton.
H3TDA is a membership-based association, meaning their operations are fully funded by municipal and private fees paid to fund their efforts. Because of this “skin in the game” from organizations that believe in their mission, they can speak with an independent collective voice on behalf of southern Albertans.
The Director of Advancement for H3TDA, Victoria Chester, was present to speak about the advancements in the twinning of Highway 3. She was previously involved in a presentation to the Crowsnest Chamber of Commerce on June 29 and explained the changes since then.
“We didn’t have any planning approved and we didn’t have a lot of hope... There’s been a lot of activity,” explained Chester.
One of the things she spoke about are the stages for the twinning of Highway 3. Chester said before road work begins, what tends to happen is the need to make sure the land is all acquired.
“One of the other things that happens, especially in this area, is the evaluations of environmental impacts. Wildlife sensitive areas, traditional lands, water protection and things like that,” said Chester.
After this, the government will do a design build, which means the contractor goes out and does all the surveying and then starts building the project out to one fee. This is the project engineering phase.
“Rather than going back and forth to government, it expedites the process of getting asphalt down,” added Chester.
Engineering is what has been approved by the government for the entire segment of highway. The step after that involves utilities, right-aways and the previously mentioned land acquisitions. Next, she talked about the government process and the concerns of the communities where the highway will be built.
“Mayor [Blair] Painter has been working on that quite a bit more recently, since some communities are not ready for the design to get started right away and this is one of the communities,” said Chester.
One of the other communities that was concerned with the placement of Highway 3 is Bow Island, which would be bypassed by a distance longer than seven kilometres, which was “way too far out” and took out acres of farmland.
“There are mainly these two communities that we are understanding need some additional consultation,” said Chester.
They said they want to be optimistic as this government, or any government that comes into play, goes forward that they will continue with the design phase.
“This phase is likely to take two or three years, depending on the region. We have had some communication with government that they will be speaking with members of the community,” said Chester.
Also speaking at the luncheon was Executive Director at SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Peter Casurella. He gave a presentation on bypasses, highlighting areas where they have both helped and hurt the town that was bypassed. Casurella made it clear he doesn’t have anything to share about the details of where any future bypass goes in the Crowsnest Pass or how the community will deal with them.
“Your home, your decision,” said Casurella.
He explained how there are numerous examples from all over North America which show bypasses around towns in certain situations can have negative economic impacts, although the reasons why can be complicated, he adds.
He referenced his hometown of Didsbury, where the town was bypassed and now there is “a ton of opportunity there” and the one service station which shut down near the old highway is an outlier as there are a “lot of businesses that are thriving.”
“A lot of service stations are doing fine on the strength of the local economy itself, even though the main highway has been moved,” said Casurella.
Throughout his presentation he made it clear that preparing for the changes is the most important thing for a town ahead of the highway twinning and bypasses coming to the community.
“If you don't seize the opportunities, somebody else will and there's a lot of opportunities,” said Casurella.
Mayor Painter pointed to the steady increase in traffic through the community and the number of transports going through as major safety concerns justifying the twinning of Highway 3. He also expressed concerns from the community and himself about twinning through Frank Slide and the lack of room between Turtle Mountain and Bluff Mountain.
More information on the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association can be found at twin3.ca or by visiting them on Facebook.