Backed by municipal officials, Banff-Kananaskis MLA Miranda Rosin is calling for the Alberta government to complete a formal feasibility study on constructing a passenger rail from the Calgary International Airport to Banff, with stops in Cochrane, Morley, downtown Calgary, Canmore, and Morley.
MLA Rosin sent a letter to Alberta Transportation minister Ric McIver on Feb. 11 asking for the passenger rail study. Municipal leaders, including Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung, and Ryan Robb, CEO of the Stoney Tribal Administration, also signed.
"We collectively believe that mass transit could be the best way to ensure we can continue moving tourists through these beautiful areas while also increasing new visitation by way of attraction using the beautiful coach line through the mountains," states the letter in part."
She believes it could play a large role in the region.
"Our government is committed to doubling the tourism spend in our province by 2030, and if the numbers that previous economic development studies have indicated are true, this could be a tremendous opportunity for growth," says Rosin.
The letter follows on the steps of an initial February 2019 study commissioned by the towns of Banff, Canmore, and Cochrane, the City of Calgary and Improvement District 9 (Lake Louise) to examine mass transit as a way to reduce the number of low-occupant private vehicles along the corridor and in the national park.
Since then, Cochrane has been working behind the scene to unify the voice of the communities, says Mayor Jeff Genung.
"We've been garnering support, and we're all kind of on the same page, but we want to make sure we have our I's dotted and our T's crossed."
Genung says having a passenger rail stop in Cochrane offers a multitude of benefits.
"I think this is a gamechanger for our community. Not only would it take commuter traffic off our highways, but it will also bring tourism and economic development right into our downtown core."
The February 2019 feasibility study showed over 2 million people land at Calgary International Airport and go directly to Banff without stopping.
"So even if we were able to get a small percentage of those two million people to stop here for 20 minutes, an hour, maybe stay overnight, it would be a huge economic boon for our community"
The consortium of municipalities is scheduled to next meet in early March.