The Bow Valley has taken another step toward seeing regional public transit between the towns of Canmore and Banff.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Hector Goudreau has put his stamp of approval on the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission as of April 21 through an order in council.
The move establishes the commission as a legal entity – the first of its kind for transit in Alberta.
Banff Councillor Leslie Taylor, who sits on the commission’s board, said the minister’s approval is positive for regional transit.
“It means we are now in a position to move forward with the business plan the three councils have approved,” Taylor said. “In our shared wish to be environmentally responsible, regional transit is a very important piece.
“I think it is a wonderful example of three municipal authorities working together to accomplish something positive.”
The commission encompasses the area from Lake Louise east through Improvement District No. 9, the Town of Banff and Town of Canmore.
The three municipalities applied to form the organization last August and saw the provincial government ask for changes to the bylaw and business plan in December.
“It is the first regional services commission for transit in the province of Alberta, which is likely why it took longer,” said Canmore’s manager of engineering Kevin Van Vliet. “It is the first time municipalities have gotten together and tried to use this type of governance model.”
Van Vliet said other jurisdictions contract out transit services between municipalities, but the commission would see a seamless system in the Bow Valley.
Having the commission approved means the group can get to work.
“It means we can legally set up a bank account and budget for the three municipalities to fund transit,” Van Vliet said. “The first step is to hire a transit manager.”
While waiting for approval, the board of directors and staff from both municipalities have been working on a job description for that role.
The minister’s approval also means the commission can buy or lease buses.
In fact, both Canmore and Banff have applied for GreenTrip funding from the provincial government to buy one bus each.
The commission’s initial business plan sets out that providing a link between Canmore and Banff with eight regular round trips per day is the first priority.
Should either community receive those funds the buses will be given to the commission.
“We have recently met with the minister’s staff on GreenTrip looking for additional information,” Van Vliet said.
The commission will also take over managing Banff’s ROAM bus system.