Cochrane Has Its Own Currency

The Cochrane Dollar has been in circulation since 2017.

Photograph courtesy of the Cochrane Monetary Foundation


The next time you patronize a business in Cochrane, check your change — you might leave the cash register with a couple of bills you don’t recognize. That’s because Cochrane has followed in the footsteps of other small towns around the world and created its own currency. 

The Cochrane Dollar, which has been in circulation since 2017, functions like a regular Canadian dollar, and can be used to buy goods and services at more than 60 participating businesses. Robert Kalinovich, economic development officer with the Town of Cochrane, says the concept first came to their attention after seeing B.C. communities such as Salt Spring Island create their own cash with great results. 

Kalinovich says the goal of the Cochrane dollar is to encourage Cochranites, as well as the nearly 1 million people who live within 45 minutes of Cochrane, to spend their money in town. “We have 27,000 people in Cochrane and a good chunk of those commute to Calgary for work every day and they have opportunity to do their shopping in Calgary,” says Kalinovich, “but we want more of those Cochranites, and more of those people within that 45-minute drive, choosing to do their shopping in Cochrane, exploring stores they haven’t been to before and spending their money here.”

A total of nearly $700,000 Cochrane dollars were printed — including 2017 commemorative $150 bills in honour of the country’s sesquicentennial leaving just over $400,000 in circulation in denominations of one, two, five, 10 and 20. Each bill is initially bought from the Cochrane ATB branch for its Canadian-dollar equivalent, and can then be spent at participating stores. Shoppers can acquire the dollars as part of special promotions or in their change, and can also buy them from certain businesses. 

The bills, which feature historic persons of interest and security features like holographic foil and embossing, have also proved an interesting souvenir for tourists, which Kalinovich says is all part of the plan to bring more people and their dollars into Cochrane. 

“The hope is that those bills that went off to Edmonton, or Saskatoon, or wherever, at some point come back to Cochrane. It’s like the Mexican pesos you bring home from your trip, and how when your neighbour’s going to Mexico a year later you give him your pesos. It’s the same kind of thing — maybe someone from Saskatoon is going skiing in Banff, you give them your Cochrane dollars and they go spend them.”


photograph courtesy of the cochrane monetary foundation


This article appears in the July 2018 issue of Avenue Calgary. Subscribe here.


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