After watching City of Calgary busses turn into East Hills in front of him on two occasions in early December, Chestermere’s Mayor Marshall Chalmers got thinking about transportation in the city.
Specifically, he wondered if it would be possible to connect Chestermere to that transit line.
“I [was] heading to meetings in Calgary early in the morning, and as I’m heading in on 17th a Calgary Transit bus turns in front of me into East Hills,” said Chalmers, “I’d never seen that before.”
When he got back into the city, he spoke with Chestermere’s CAO about what the best way to approach Calgary about connecting Chestermere and the new MAX Purple Bus Rapid Transit Line.
He was advised to had it added to the agenda of the next of the regular Intermunicipal Committee (IMC) meeting that Chalmers attends with the City of Calgary.
The topic was added to the Friday, Dec. 7 IMC.
“As a result, I told my little story,” said Chalmers, “they said absolutely let’s take a look at it and see if it’s feasible.”
On the committee representing Calgary are Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra and Councillor Ray Jones.
According to Chalmers, the decision was made by the committee that the City of Calgary administration staff who sit on the committee would look into the feasibility of his idea.
With the wheels put in motion to explore a transit link between Chestermere and Calgary, Chalmers said he was surprised to hear over the weekend both Councillor Carra and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaking in support of the idea to Calgary media.
“Both Carra and Nenshi jumped all over this,” said Chalmers.
“I’m extremely pleased that they’re showing their desire to look at regional solutions,” he said.
And while transportation has not been a top priority of Chalmers and City Council, Chestermere Utilities Inc. and cutting taxes taking most of their focus, it is needed here in Chestermere.
“The need for it, if we’re talking about aging in place one of the services that we don’t have to cover off that age group is transportation,” said Chalmers.
He said he has also been asked about transit by many of the city’s newer residents who would like to see a link into Calgary for recreation or accessing post-secondary schools.
Chalmers said that the city is working on finding a solution but that they need to be cautious as transit is expensive and reliant on city taxes for funding.
“Transportation is very heavy on the tax dollar,” said Chalmers, “you might see typically the overall cost of transportation supported 60 to 70 per cent by the tax dollar.”
“You’ve got to be awful careful, you’ve got to make sure that when you start looking at this it’s really balanced between the need and the cost,” he said.