The green light has been given to a major trail system upgrade, thanks to a federal government grant.

The town has been awarded a federal active transportation grant to assist in enhancing its trail system from the Cochrane Ranche to the Bow River.

Mayor Jeff Genung announced the town has been awarded a $770,000 grant towards the $1.15 million project. The other $460,000 will be covered by the town through a reserve, according to the town's 2023 budget.

Based upon extensive planning completed by Bike Cochrane, town council approved the grant application in late March.

The project includes paving 2,140m of the pathway through Glenbow, paving 1,501m of the Cochrane Ranche and Tri-Schools connection path, and wayfinding signage, maps, and multimodal paint markers.

Mayor Genung says he regularly hears how people love our trail system, but accessibility issues have been pointed out, particularly for people with mobility issues.

"Some seniors have reached out to me saying it's somewhat dangerous on some of the routes, it ices up in the winter time, we can't maintain it properly, and there are uneven and old wooden bridges that are a bit treacherous for those who are maybe physical challenges," says Genung. "This will see that entire system upgraded and paved, allow us to maintain it year-round, and allow for all residents to utilize it."

Genung praised Bike Cochrane for their major contribution to the project, as well as Mitchell Hamm, director of Community Services.

He says the expansion of the town staff is making such success stories possible.

"It's a director-level position that, quite honestly, we're taking some flack for, for expanding our organization, but these are some of the things able to do and accomplish," says Genung, "and bringing $770,000 in capital investment in our community pays that wage for seven years."

Paul Perrault, Bike Cochrane's director of operations, says they're thrilled with the news and will be providing further comment shortly.

Bike Cochrane is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization advocating for cycling in our community, which spills into benefitting all trail and pathway users.