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Right of Passage

Safely and efficiently moving people and wildlife on Banff’s section of the Trans-Canada Highway and beyond

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PC: Yes. What has been learned from six years of monitoring the first phases of highway construction and data analyses is being used in the planning and construction of the next sections. This is an ‘adaptive management’ approach to highway mitigation planning, basically using research results from previous monitoring to guide the planning and design of new crossings. The analyses of wildlife preference/avoidance of crossing types are being used to guide the design of new crossings. Simulation models based on animal movements of five large mammal species in the Bow Valley were used to determine best placement of new crossings. The structures will be slightly larger than crossings on previously twinned sections of the Trans-Canada Highway in the park, primarily because the upper part of the Bow Valley (a sub alpine ecozone) has a different suite of wildlife, including higher densities of lynx, grizzly bears, moose and wolverine.   There is little information on crossing type preference for lynx and wolverine, because they are rarely found in the lower Bow Valley where the existing crossing structures are located.

 

Pique: There is some debate on how to include the hamlet of Lake Louise into the plans. Can you elaborate on this?

PC: The environmental assessment for the current TCH twinning project adjacent to Lake Louise recommended that the highway fence include the hamlet to reduce bear-human encounters. Parks Canada explored this possibility, but at this time, it was not feasible and the highway fence is being built along the right-of-way.

A fence behind the community would have to cross the Bow River twice and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) three times. At these points, fence structures must prevent wildlife passage but allow usual river recreation and railway traffic. Parks Canada tested river and rail structures within a short fence section to assess how well they would deter large animals. The deterrents tested at the CPR openings did not meet wildlife exclusion targets set by Parks Canada in time to meet the TCH Twinning construction schedule. With the cooperation of the CPR, Parks Canada will continue to test deterrents at fence railway openings. A fence behind the community to exclude grizzly bears from the hamlet remains a possible option. This would benefit both people and grizzly bears.

 

Pique: What is the scheduled completion date for the second phase of the highway expansion?