In wake of high-profile online presentation, transportation remains high priority locally

Mayor Jeff Genung speaks from a podium at the RancheHouse theatre November 5 while co-host, Cochranite and former TV news anchor Carla Minogue looks on. The pair were addressing Cochranites on the matter of traffic in a broadcast streamed over the internet. jpg, CT

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Town of Cochrane senior leadership and town council began meeting in the RancheHouse and virtually November 16 for the annual budget deliberation process. These meetings, viewable online to the public, generally last two or three days.

It’s a safe bet that a solid (maybe even the largest) chunk of time will be used to discuss transportation infrastructure: ways that the municipality can alleviate local traffic headaches that don’t fall within the category of projects that should be funded by the province.

A week-and-a-half earlier, the town hosted an information session on what’s called ‘Cochrane Traffic Plan’. There was no public attendance, but it was broadcast live online (it’s still available for viewing on the town’s Facebook page, no account should be required).

Much of the information presented wasn’t technically news, as projects discussed were included in the draft version of the budget released in October. However, the November 5 presentation was noteworthy for the great lengths the town went to present the projects in a manner easily digestible to the public.

This wasn’t just some cellphone camera attached to a tripod type of deal: They had the lighting, crew and A/V equipment of the RancheHouse theatre at their disposal, and assembled a set with armchairs and a little bit of decor. They brought local former CTV and CBC television news anchor/reporter Carla Minogue along for the ride, who served as the ‘host’ for the session posing questions to mayor Jeff Genung and relaying more submitted by residents through Facebook.

As far as resident participation in Town of Cochrane initiatives, this one had a pretty good (virtual) turnout. The resident Q&A portion lasted an hour (two-thirds of the entire event). A Town of Cochrane staff member was delegated the work of managing the nearly 300 comments that came in throughout the session, and Minogue had to paraphrase or group many questions together because engagement was so high.

The town also went to the effort of producing a 3D rendering ‘flyover’ video. It offers a visual representation of the changes coming to Highways 1A and 22, and kind of looks like if the town was constructed in a video game. While the notion of ‘bad traffic in Cochrane’ or the upcoming changes aren’t exactly news, these types of measures the town went to to deliver a more ‘deluxe’ broadcast indicate a priority on the town’s end to communicate traffic efforts to the public.

The upgrades outlined in ‘Cochrane’s Traffic Plan’, most of which are along Highway 1A, are presented in detail at Cochrane.ca/TrafficPlan. The minute-and-a-half flyover video is available for viewing there as well.

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