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Design work for Elk Run Boulevard, Glacier Drive construction project underway

“In this area, there’s a growing need and demand to address connectivity. It has quite limited connectivity right now and of course, safety and accessibility. The project is an important one. It may not be what you would look at as a priority if you were just simply focused on transportation, but it’s an important one in the context of our overall plans in looking for to supporting and achieving our 2030 transportation goals.”

Canmore residents will soon have a chance to give their thoughts on a potential road construction project expected to revamp Elk Run and Glacier Drive.

The project, if ultimately approved by council at the next budget, would see significant work completed to have the area more in line with the Town’s active transportation goals to increase safety and accessibility for all transit modes.

“In this area, there’s a growing need and demand to address connectivity,” said Andy Esarte, the Town’s manager of engineering. “It has quite limited connectivity right now and of course, safety and accessibility. The project is an important one.

“It may not be what you would look at as a priority if you were just simply focused on transportation, but it’s an important one in the context of our overall plans in looking for to supporting and achieving our 2030 transportation goals.”

The Town’s integrated transportation plan has a goal of 40 per cent of community travel being done in an active mode by 2030. When the plan was released in 2018, 80 per cent of trips were done by vehicles.

It also aligns with the Town’s climate action plan goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the community by 30 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.

The design will be brought forward for council approval this fall, Esarte said, and a public engagement will also begin in the coming months. If approved, the tendering would take place in 2023 and construction would occur in 2023-24.

Trevor Reeder, project manager in Canmore’s engineering department, said the project will have deep utility work, road surface improvements, better safety and accessibility work completed to bring it in alignment with Town policy and modern design standards.

The estimated cost would be between $6 and $10 million, Reeder said.

The two roads were built in the 1980s and 90s. Glacier Drive is a collector standard of 12 metres wide, while Elk Run is an arterial standard of about 15 metres wide. Both are in largely commercial and industrial areas of Canmore and allow for little pedestrian and cycling movement.

Though the area doesn’t have pedestrian and cycling safety such as seen in other areas of town, Reeder said they still see people using it, largely due to the switch of people using active transit modes.

“We can see that even though the infrastructure is not overly supportive, there are relatively high volumes in this corridor,” he said.

Reeder said there have already been internal talks on how best to engage the public, but there’s a recognition any project that leads to less parking can be contentious.

“There’s an advantage those commercial users are getting out of using that space for parking. It creates a difficult space for users, not just cyclists and pedestrians. It’s not actually a fun road to drive down if there’s traffic coming the other way,” Reeder said.

Esarte said the majority of parking on Elk Run will likely be maintained, but there is likely to be an impact on Glacier Drive that could see parking removed on one side of the road, which is more in line with modern collector design.

“I believe there will be an ability to maintain parking in the design,” he said. “It’s just a matter of how to make sure it’s efficiently used and addressing a commercial need for parking isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Among aspects being considered in the design are not impacting commercial and industrial-based businesses who use the street parking, but also making it accessible and safe for people walking and cycling.

“Can we accommodate the needs of the businesses, which I believe are local to that area, and try to accommodate that in a way that still allows to accomplish what needs to be done for the roads for connectivity and safety,” Esarte said.