The Chiefs of the Stoney Nakoda Nations announced on November 28 that the Stoney Tribal Council ratified an agreement that day with the province to improve a notoriously unsafe portion of Highway 1A running through the nation.
In a press release, the Chiefs said the portion of the highway would be “modernized to 21st century standards”.
The province announced they would move ahead with the project on November 12 agreeing on a land-transfer deal with the Stoney Nakoda Nations. The improvements to the section of the highway are expected to cost $76.5 million. The announcement came on the same day the province confirmed funding for the beleagured Highway 1A/22 intersection in Cochrane.
Twenty-nine kilometres of highway through the Stoney Nakoda Nations will be widened from 6.7 metres to 13 metres.
“This is a long overdue commitment to improve the safety of Highway 1A,” said the Wesley First Nation’s Chief Clifford Poucette.
At one point, Highway 1A served as the main gateway to Banff National Park.
“We look forward to a modern highway which improves safety for Stoney residents as well as for the travelling public and wildlife,” said the Chiniki First Nation’s Chief Aaron Young.
Built in 1946, the highway has had a reputation for both incredible scenery and well as dangerously narrow shoulders and sharp curves.
“The highway improvements will address safety issues and provide economic opportunities for our people,” said the Bearspaw First Nation’s Darcy Dixon.
The media release explains that “Although the highway follows the trail Stoney Nakoda guides had used to lead the first non-natives into the Banff area, the right-of-way for the highway was never formally removed from the Stoney Indian reserves.”
Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2020.
“The Stoney Nakoda people welcome this effort by the Province of Alberta in the spirit of
reconciliation,” reads the statement from the Chiefs.