The stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway through Medicine Hat, Alta., could soon be dedicated to veterans and first responders.

A proposal is before city council to rededicate the roadway as the Highway of Heroes.


City officials in Medicine Hat are considering a proposal to dedicate a section of the Trans-Canada as the Highway of Heroes. (CBC)

Trina Murray, with the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Units, is proposing the project.

"I would like for it to go provincewide, not just within the city, but we're starting small and moving forward from here," said Murray.

"I'm feeling pretty confident at this point, I think it's a very positive initiative not only for the community, but for the province as well."

The very first Highway of Heroes was established in Ontario on a stretch of Highway 401 between Trenton and Toronto.

Whenever a soldier dies in combat people pay tribute along the route.

Several provinces have created their own Highway of Heroes, but Alberta does not have one.

Murray originally applied to the provincial government last year to rededicate all of the Trans-Canada Highway in Alberta as the Highway of Heroes.

But former transportation minister Ray Danyluk denied her request early last year, in part because Alberta has already renamed Highway 36 as Veterans Memorial Highway.

But Murray argues there is a clear distinction between the two projects.

"A veterans highway is a remembrance of our fallen Canadian Forces members," she said. 

"The Highway of Heroes is more of a recognition to all heroes, whether they be Canadian military, whether they be first responders, or whether they be the everyday hero who puts themselves out on a line for someone else's benefit."  

Danyluk recommended Murray propose the idea to a municipality along the Trans-Canada Highway and rededicate a smaller portion of the roadway.

Support for project in Medicine Hat

Murray has sent a proposal to the Medicine Hat city council. A city committee is currently working on the logistics of the idea.

Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher strongly supports the idea. He is a former RCMP officer and served overseas for the United Nations in Kosovo and Croatia.

"We are a military city, right by [CFB] Suffield," he said. 

"We lost one of our soldiers Sapper Stephan Stock. As a matter of fact, both of his parents worked for the city. And so, it really hit us hard because everyone was sensitized, it was one of the locals. So if we have a chance to celebrate, I would think we have to do that."

Stock was a military engineer from Medicine Hat who was killed overseas five years ago.

Signs could cause confusion

The official name of the Trans-Canada Highway would remain the same and provincial maps would not change.

Signs within city limits would designate the road as the Highway of Heroes. 

Alberta Transportation would have to approve the project, but the department has been reluctant in the past to provide two names for one highway.

"There is a bit of a concern that the same roadway having two different names may confuse some motorists," said spokesperson Trent Bancarz. 

"But we would have to look at how much that would really be a factor."