The upgrading of the Hwy. 1A and 22 interchange is helping the Cochrane and District Agricultural Society (CDAS) tackle some of the serious challenges associated with their hilly location.

CDAS Justin Burwash says it has enabled them to level out some benches and create more useable space, something that's part of a preliminary site plan that set some high-level goals a few years ago,

"We're going to have some huge advances in our facility by this time next year, for sure," he says, "Now we can sit down with some site planning and go OK, what do we want to do with the barn and the arena, and how can we further benefit the community by adding on to these facilities. And what can the community use?"

Burwash says they have been able to make arrangements with an earthworks company working on the interchange to receive the fill they need to get the improvements underway. 

"What we're able to do right now is secure a lot of the fill, and so we're effectively going to get millions of dollars of work done at the Ag Society, levelling out a lot of our geographical challenges.

Instead of having tiered benches by the main barn, CDAS will have one large bench. When complete, it will be about two and a half times larger and will be able to accommodate about 2,000 vehicles.

Further north on the property, the parking area by the indoor arena will also be expanded and they'll be leveling out some of the area by the Cochrane BMX track to expand the staging area for the popular facility.

"The bonus of all this, too, is that we're going to get all of the used asphalt, so all the areas I talked about are going to be paved."

There are multiple recreational user groups on the 144-acre property and not all of them are agriculturally based. That includes Cochrane BMX, situated in the northeast corner of their property, and the Buffalo Bean Trail of Bike Cochrane in a hilly section to the west. 

He says CDAS is largely focusing on addressing the needs of their current users.

"We're looking at what they're trying to do to enhance how they serve the community, so BMX is a big one where their course needed some work on the corners and so they're in the middle of a lot of work and a lot of fundraising on their own to rebuild corners of the BMX track."

The track is a popular destination for local BMX enthusiasts and those from across the province.

He says the CDAS board is thrilled about what's underway, and how it will benefit the Cochrane area.

"It's as simple as earthworks, but what it does is open up doors for how we can serve the community. It's extremely exciting, so the community should be stoked for what's happening up there."

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