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Canmore Town Council rejects wildlife corridor development proposal

Y2Y praises unanimous decision by the Town of Canmore council on May 2 to reject major new development in the Three Sisters wildlife corridor.

MEDIA RELEASE
May 3, 2017

Canmore Town Council rejects wildlife corridor development proposal The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is praising yesterday's unanimous decision by the Town of Canmore council to reject major new development in the Three Sisters wildlife corridor.

“The decision by Canmore Town Council to reject the massive redevelopment proposal for the area known as Resort Centre along the base of Three Sisters Mountain is a significant step forward in the effort to align our vision for Canmore with the needs of wildlife at the Y2Y scale,” says Dr. Hilary Young, program co-ordinator for Y2Y.

“Council made a difficult and courageous decision in voting unanimously to support our community's future and an internationally significant wildlife movement corridor. All residents of the Y2Y region can be proud today,” she says.

There are two separate, but linked proposals for development on the Three Sisters land.

One proposal, known as Smith Creek, is the final phase of development for the lands along the southwestern side of the Bow Valley. That proposal is currently being reviewed by the Province of Alberta which must decide if the design of the development meets the needs of the wildlife corridor connecting Banff National Park with protected areas in Kananaksis Country.

The province has indicated it will take up to another two months to analyze the massive public response to the development corridor. This prompted the developer, Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) and Quantum Place Developments to pause their Smith Creek application last week.

The second proposal is Resort Centre, on a parcel of land with an approved development plan dating to 2004. This plan designates a wildlife corridor that includes a buffer zone on a yet-to-be completed golf course. In 2016, TSMV asked the Town of Canmore to consider a change to the scope of the development, including new housing, retail, commercial and private recreation on the land. This proposal was rejected by Council on May 2.

“Canmore is an example of how people and nature can co-exist,” says Adam Linnard, program associate for Y2Y and lifelong Canmore resident. “The Bow Valley is one of the most heavily developed valleys in North America where animals like grizzly bears, cougars, wolves and elk live successfully side-by-side with people. We have worked hard as a community to maintain that status. The decision by Council in favour of conservation helps keep us moving in the right direction.”

“This is an opportunity for residents of the Bow Valley to reflect on our future,” says Stephen Legault, Y2Y program director. “Y2Y is not opposed to development in the Bow Valley. Our issue with Resort Centre and Smith Creek is due to their scale. Scientists tell us that we could already be close to, if not past, an ecological threshold for long-term animal movement in the Bow Valley. Council listened to concerns raised by scientists and the community. We’re proud of them.”

Y2Y maintains that some development is possible in the Three Sisters area, but that a cumulative impacts assessment, specifically that incorporates animal movement, should be completed for development that would increase Canmore’s footprint, or adjacent communities such as Dead Man’s Flats, before it proceeds.

“This is a good opportunity for the provincial government to show leadership by initiating a cumulative impact assessment and support the direction Canmore is heading,” says Legault.

For further comment please contact:

Hilary Young, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative Alberta program co-ordinator, 403-609-2666 ext. 104 |

Stephen Legault, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program director for Crown, Alberta and Northwest Territories, 403-688-2964 |