By Cole Parkinson
Southern Alberta Newspapers
With the Highway 3 twinning project from Taber to Burdett coming sooner than later, the Municipal District of Taber is hoping to gather support for a rest stop as well.
During council’s regular meeting on Feb. 22, the topic of a potential rest stop along Highway 3 was broached by council. With their previous experience with the Highway 36 rest stop and all the work it took to get that project completed, council is well aware of the challenges that come with a new project.
“This is something we were going to have one so I thought we might be able to have some input into what point of interest might be at that rest stop,” stated Coun. John Turcato. “I don’t know that it isn’t necessary for us to lobby for that, not only for highway safety, but also promotion of our area.”
“Getting the Vauxhall area was years and years in the making, is that similar to what we would want to do? A truck stop sort of thing with some commercial lots as part of it or just a turnout? How big of a deal do we want to make this,” added Reeve Merrill Harris.
After a previous Highway 3 Twinning Development Association where the topic was brought up, Coun. Brian Hildebrand provided some background for council on how that discussion went.
“My thought when I first made the comment in the meeting would be just some kind of a turnout. You know, park two or three trucks, garbage cans, and a bit of a blurb of some points of notice in the M.D. The comment came back they were planning a large west stop similar to what is on Highway 1. Like with washrooms, places for campers, cars, and trucks. Later on in the meeting, it was revolved it was nothing at all. It was a very big change provided to us from Transportation. There is a need for something, both for tourists and commercial vehicles,” he said.
An idea was brought up to inquire with the Town of Taber and see what their appetite would be to potentially partner on a rest stop project.
“I wonder if, besides Highway 3, we shouldn’t champion this with the Town of Taber. I mean, right now we rely heavily on two private businesses that are housing commercial trucks, for a lack of a better word. I know one of those has been trying to move them along because of the damages to their parking lot, but I mean, it’s full-on a nightly basis,” said Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga. “The second one, you’re not supposed to leave your rig unattended during the night, so there really is no place for commercial Turks that are going. I wonder if this isn’t something we should be above and beyond. I realize it is a big cost.”
With plenty of major highways in Alberta having several opportunities to pull off the road to rest, council was in agreement having one in the M.D. of Taber along Highway 3 made sense. They also acknowledged the fact they didn’t need a huge rest stop to accomplish what they are after.
“There’s a number of them along Highway 1,” said Turcato, who also reaffirmed he doesn’t see a big one being necessary. “If it’s that or nothing, that’s pretty short-sighted as well, I think they have to have some type of safety stop there somewhere. I just can’t believe they are going to eliminate that in an hour’s drive there.”
While the Town of Taber was discussed as a potential partner, others asked about inquiring with neighbouring municipalities as well.
“Bow Island isn’t within the M.D. here like the Town of Taber is, but the mayor of Bow Island had also expressed concurs about their issues on service roads and side roads within their town as well with the pressure they are having with overnight parking of trucks and heavy loads. They are experiencing the same challenges within the town of Bow Island as well,” stated Hildebrand.
With plenty of options discussed by council, administration was looking for a more direct ask of them before moving forward.
“Are we wanting to propose a partnership with some of these folks? That’s a question I would have to council and if we are, we could go look at potential sites and propose those for Alberta Transportation to consider. Or we could just simply send the question and query to Alberta Transportation saying ‘is this something you can consider as part of your Highway 3 project?’” asked CAO Arlos Crofts.
In the end, a motion was made to draft a letter to municipal neighbours asking for letters of support for the project, which was carried unanimously.