February 5, 2018 8:46 pm
Updated: February 5, 2018 9:17 pm

Alberta moves ahead on proposed animal overpass on Highway 1 near Canmore

WATCH: Conservation experts call it a “choke point” in wildlife migration. But now the province of Alberta appears to be moving ahead with plans to build a new wildlife overpass along the Trans-Canada Highway just east of Canmore. As Sarah Offin reports, the move could save the lives of some 60 animals every year.

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The Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative has been campaigning for an overpass to be built on the TransCanada Highway just east of Lac des Arcs for several years.

“What we end of having is a spot where grizzly bears, ungulates and wolves cross over as they move across the Rocky Mountains. As a result, we have a fair number of mortalities and collisions that happen here,” Stephen Legault with Y2Y said.

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But there’s news this week that the project may be moving forward. The province is in the process of putting out a request for proposal on the design.

“As the design and data analysis are yet to be completed, we cannot speculate on the outcomes or timelines of this particular project at this time. We will know more once a consultant is hired,” Julie MacIsaac with Alberta Transportation said Monday. “We are working to get a head start on this project now by getting the designs in place and ready to go.”

The province is also working on the design of an animal detection system, which would alert drivers when wildlife is in the area.

The question that still remains: will there be money in the provincial budget?

MacIsaac said funding for construction for this project has not yet been allocated.

“We’ve heard the phrase ‘compassionate belt-tightening’ a lot. We’re all still trying to figure out what that means,” Legault said. “Our hope is that the province of Alberta will see investing in safety on our highways and investing in wildlife and connectivity as a good investment to make here in Alberta.”

Legault said the province has estimated vehicle collisions on the TransCanada Highway between Lac des Arcs and the Banff park gate cost at least $750,000 every year — a price about 60 animals pay with their lives.

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