Havre Daily News
The mayor of Medicine Hat wants to make his city's relationship with Havre an even closer one.
Mayor Garth Vallely is pushing Canadian officials to develop a trade corridor linking the two cities. He recently told Bear Paw Development Corp. and Montana Department of Transportation officials about his plan to improve the highway linking the two cities and open the Wild Horse border crossing 24 hours a day.
Vallely spoke about his plan in a panel discussion, “Opportunities East of the Mountains,” held Friday. The panel was a part of a seven-session Leadership Montana road trip, which included a stop in Havre. Leadership Montana is a statewide collaboration of education, civic and business leaders.
Vallely said the route would be “a two-way street of monumental proportions.” He said Montana should capitalize on the trade opportunities.
He said he is working with Canadian officials to develop support for the corridor.
“It's a no-brainer,” Vallely said. “The stars are aligned as far as I am concerned.”
“I'm taking that ‘east of the mountains' up to Alberta,” Vallely said.
He said Alberta is low on services and could use the corridor to exchange goods and services with the U.S.
Vallely said the providence has about 175 billion gallons of recoverable oil.
Bear Paw Development Corp. planner Craig Erickson said the corridor might be the “economic justification” officials have been looking for to expand transportation in eastern Montana, including efforts to make U.S. Highway 2 a four-lane roadway.
The panel also discussed alternative energy development.
“Energy is the future for eastern Montana,” Erickson said during the panel discussion.
Montana has 25 percent of the U.S. coal reserve, he said.
Hill County farmer Jon Stoner, who is president of the Montana Grain Growers Association, said he sees a lot of opportunity in the state. He said one such opportunity is in the production of alternative fuels.
“An advantage Montana has is natural resources that are not available in other countries,” Stoner said.
Stoner said the association is working to finding the answers to problems like high transportation of goods costs and how to keep farmers on their land.
He said Montana farmers have been exploring crops other than the standard wheat and barley, such as lentils and peas.