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Keeping Canmore's Wildlife Moving

A Wildlife Corridor with Continental Consequences

Y2Y and a coalition of conservation groups, local businesses and concerned citizens helped keep wildlife moving around the Town of Canmore.

At issue was a development proposal that would have seen housing for another 10,000+ people added to a continentally-significant wildlife corridor.

Room to Roam

The Town of Canmore is situated in one of the most important wildlife corridors in Alberta, a rare, low-elevation connection between protected habitats in Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park. Ensuring wildlife can move between these core habitats is at the heart of the Y2Y vision.

Wolf by Brandon T Brown
Photo: Brandon T. Brown, wildcanadaphoto.com

With 12,300 permanent and 6,000 part-time residents, the town already occupies much of the Bow Valley. Layer two highways, a railroad and numerous golf courses on top of that and you begin to see how busy this critical connection in the Y2Y system really is.

Homes for Another 10,000+ People

Twenty years ago, permission was granted to develop Three Sisters Mountain Village, a resort on the south side of the valley. The approval was granted on the condition that wildlife corridors be defined and left ‘in as undeveloped a state as possible’.

Since then the project has changed hands many times while being partially developed. At the beginning of 2013 the project was under receivership with approval to build houses for another 10,000+ people.

The Receiver, PricewaterhouseCoopers, was looking to define the last piece of the wildlife corridor so it could quickly sell what was left.

Bow Valley by Karsten Heuer
Photo: Karsten Heuer - Bow Valley

In an effort to maximize the asking price, PricewaterhouseCoopers proposed something much narrower and steeper than the 600m widths that were agreed to for wildlife corridors elsewhere on the property.

They were also going back on an earlier agreement to buffer the corridor with open space (a golf course), and were proposing houses right up to the corridor’s edge.

“A lot of people were upset,” said Y2Y President Karsten
Heuer. “This is the last piece of a wildlife corridor this community has been working on for 20 years. This proposal put it all at risk.”

A Community Pulled Together

The Bow Valley community rallied together to oppose the proposed development plan. From Town Council meetings to public consultations, the community voiced their desire for a proposal that valued maintaining the integrity of the corridor and not one that jeopardized it.

On June 19th, 2013 PriceWaterhouseCoopers walked away from the process, noting that at this point the only economically viable option to take is to focus its efforts on marketing and selling the property.

Y2Y would like to thank everyone for their commitment to this sensitive area!

To learn more about the issue, please watch the video below.

Y2Y 3 sis presentation
Click image to watch Karsten Heuer's presentation

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