With magnificent curb appeal and a practical multi-purpose floor plan, The Station at Cochrane Crossing, 360 Railway St., is set to play a significant role as a central hub for Cochrane.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 8, an official ribbon-cutting takes place at 3 p.m. that will kick off the official opening of the pedestrian crossing from Railway St. into the Historic Downtown.

It will be followed by a community open house of The Station from 3 to 6 p.m. to give residents a sneak peek of this central point that will connect residents, businesses, and visitors. The building officially opens later this month.

What's now The Station has been over 10 years in the making and its purpose has been vastly expanded to become more encompassing of town needs. It has been touched by three mayors and several town councils over the years.

At its heart was a singular vision of establishing transit in Cochrane when Truper McBride was mayor. In 2010, Cochrane secured $6 million in GreenTRIP funding from the provincial government, with the town required to provide an additional $3 million. Funding was weighed heavily toward purchasing a fleet of buses for local and regional transit.  

The at-grade pedestrian crossing was first included in the town's 2014 10-year Financial Strategy with the target of being under construction six years later. It has stayed true to the plan of utilizing Community Revitalization Levy funding derived from The Quarry commercial development. 

Transit was established after a long, and, for some, bitter dispute. It became an election issue in 2010 and came close to going to a plebiscite. It only became a reality after an on-demand system was adopted.

Under Mayor Ivan Brooker, the idea of a downtown transit hub took another step forward in 2017. 

The town was able to secure major changes in how it could utilize the GreenTRIP funding. The Alberta Government agreed a large portion could be utilized to purchase land, plan, design, and construct a downtown hub.

Then in 2018, under Mayor Jeff Genung, the town launched a tri-site initiative to examine how to best use three parcels of downtown public land. One of the sites was the Railway St. parcel.

At one point, it was proposed to include a separate three-storey innovation centre. Mayor Jeff Genung, Councillor Alex Reed, and other town officials visited a tech incubator in Kitchener, ON in 2019 and believed the idea had merit for Cochrane.

That idea was rolled back, and instead, a smaller innovation centre was included in a single, multi-purpose building. Also since then, the vision of the innovation centre has been expanded beyond tech to include all forms of business startups. 

The Station

In October 2020, town council gave the green light to the project.

During preliminary onsite excavations, crews unearthed significant contamination on the land that was previously used for an Esso bulk station. Council approved an $800,000 capital budget to remedy the situation.

The 7,770 sq. ft. multi-purpose building will provide a transit waiting amenity and will be home to the visitor information centre, business development and its community partners, town administrative services, and a co-working space/business start-up program. To the delight of many, there are public washrooms that are in high demand in the downtown core.

Should rail travel become a reality between Calgary and the mountain parks, it's envisioned to be a stopping point. That's an add-on. It was not a driving force behind the creation of The Station.

It also includes a green space and civic plaza that has monuments incorporating wayfinding signage, interactive digital information boards and lighting, secure bike storage, free public wi-fi amenities, and future public art. Currently, proposals are currently being accepted for the public art.

The entire project has an $8.2 million budget and is expected to come in on target. 

Tourism groupDuring Small Business Week, The Station was utilized to host a series of sessions, including this one on tourism initiatives.

The town received the keys for the building on Oct. 17, in time to briefly house Small Business Week sessions.

Tonight, town council will be receiving a detailed report from Mike Korman, interim director of Development Services, outlining the proposed innovation space programming and a deployment timetable.