New pathway system further connecting Calgary to its western neighbour

Cochrane’s close proximity to Calgary is about to feel a whole lot closer with construction expected to get underway on the first leg of the Calgary to Cochrane Trail this summer.

Phase one of the $7.5-million project will be a 2.2-kilometre stretch entitled Bearspaw Trail, which will join Haskayne Park in northwest Calgary to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.

Phase two will include the development of Bowbend Loop and Railway Crossing, which has an expected completion date of 2018, followed by phase three, Bridge to Cochrane, which is expected to be completed by 2020.

The 14-kilometre Calgary to Cochrane Trail represents a portion of the TransCanada Trail. Upon completion, it will provide walking, hiking and biking trails, a rail crossing and pedestrian bridge connecting Cochrane.

The trail is an added perk to living in the burgeoning community just west of Calgary, which has come a long way since first being established as the Cochrane Ranche more than 130 years ago.

Once a construction town largely limited to a local stone quarry, sawmill and brick plants, the town of more than 20,000 residents has developed into a vibrant hub striving to maintain its western heritage while also promoting modern ideals, such as the recent introduction of multi-family recycling.

“I like the small-town atmosphere with the advantage of having the big-city services (in Calgary) close by,” said Leslie Deans who’s called Cochrane home for almost 20 years.“I like the feeling of community that a small town gives.”

Cochrane’s downtown includes not only the landmark McKay’s Ice Cream shop, but also a collection of kitschy stores such as Poor David’s and Just Imajan Art Gallery and Studio. For those looking for a tasty treat or two, there’s the vintage flair of the Cochrane Café or the home-baked creations at the Home Quarter Mercantile & Pie Shoppe.

“Cochrane is a small, friendly community with big hearts,” said resident Kim Cruickshank.

Cruickshank is not alone. The Town of Cochrane released a resident satisfaction survey late last year in which 99 per cent of respondents indicated their overall quality of life is good or very good.

“I’m proud of how Cochranites feel about this community,” Mayor Ivan Brooker said about the survey.

Areas that saw improvement compared to the last survey, conducted in 2009, included an 11 per cent increase in arts and culture facility satisfaction, an 11 per cent increase in municipal enforcement, including bylaw and animal control and a seven per cent increase in land use and community planning.

Cochrane is also continuing to keep an eye on the future through the town’s sustainability plan. First created in 2008, the plan was built on the pillars of environment, culture, economy, governance, natural environment and social principles.

More recently, the town announced mandatory recycling collection services for all multi-unit properties that will take effect June 1. The bylaw is part of the town’s Zero Waste Framework that, in harmony with the Town’s sustainability plan, will help the community achieve zero waste through waste limits, recycling and composting.

“Cochrane residents have very high rates of participation in recycling programs. “It was the right time to make it easier for people living in multi-unit complexes to recycle,” said Brooker.