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Delay in Three Sisters development process opens door for better planning for wildlife

Town postponement will provide the Province an opportunity to better plan for wildlife movement in the Bow Valley, says Y2Y.

March 30, 2017 

On Tuesday, Mar. 28, the Town of Canmore announced the postponement of the planned first reading of the Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) Area Structure Plan (ASP) scheduled for Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2017. The reason for the postponement stated by the Town is the third party review of the TSMV environmental impact assessment is not yet complete  

“Slowing the pace of decisions around the Three Sisters development will give the Province of Alberta an opportunity to better plan for wildlife movement in the Bow Valley,” says Stephen Legault, program director for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).   

The ASP was to receive first reading while the Province of Alberta was simultaneously conducting consultations on the proposed wildlife movement corridor through the Bow Valley, adjacent to the planned development at TSMV.   

TSMV proposes to build 4,121 units of housing along with 1,500 new visitor accommodation rooms and tourist facilities along the base of Three Sisters mountain. At the same time, Silvertip Resorts is proposing 1,250 housing units, 13 hotels, a gaming facility, conference centre and gondola for the opposite side of the Bow Valley. The two proposals, along with other planned development, would double the size of Canmore  

“The Bow Valley is one of the most critical low elevation valleys in the entire Y2Y region,” says ecologist Hilary Young, Alberta program coordinator for Y2Y. “The Bow Valley is unique in that it is often snow-free in the winter and provides extraordinary habitat and wildlife movement corridors for elk, grizzlies and wolves.”  

“We’re calling on the Province of Alberta to undertake a cumulative impact assessment for wildlife connectivity in the Bow Valley,” says Canmore resident and veterinarian Tracey Henderson. “Let’s take the time we need to assess the impact of all development on the ability of wildlife to migrate through the Bow Valley. This is a decision of international significance. We need to ensure we consider all development in total when deciding the Bow Valley’s future.”   

Henderson says that the pause in the Town of Canmore’s process provides the province time to undertake the assessment.   

“The province, the Town, Banff National Park and Stoney First Nation have all been studying wildlife connectivity in the region,” says Canmore business owner Lisa Downing. “We already have much of the information needed to undertake this assessment. Nobody has sat down with all this information, in the light of proposals to double the size of Canmore and asked the critical question: how will all this growth impact an internationally significant wildlife movement corridor? That needs to happen before we make a decision on the Three Sisters development.”   

For further comment please contact:   

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

Hilary Young, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative program coordinator for Alberta  
403-609-2666 ext. 10  

Tracey Henderson, 403-678-8532 

Lisa Downing, 403-688-4494