Wildlife Connectivity at Stake in Dispute Over Dead Man’s Flats Development
June 16, 2016
Canmore, AB - The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) will be closely watching an appeal made by the Town of Canmore before the Municipal Government Board next week, in which the Town is contesting a development proposal in the community of Dead Man’s Flats. An Area Structure Plan (ASP) completed for the Bow Valley hamlet by the MD of Bighorn would allow for light industrial development at the north end of a wildlife underpass that allows grizzlies and other wildlife to pass beneath the Trans-Canada Highway.
“If development were allowed to occur at the mouth of this wildlife underpass, which is what is being proposed in the Area Structure Plan, it would act like a cork being stuck in a funnel for wildlife passing beneath the highway,” says Stephen Legault, Program Director, Crown, Alberta and NWT for Y2Y.
“The adjacent Wind Valley is protected, as are the lands along the Bow River. This wildlife underpass represents the one safe passage that grizzly bears and other large mammals use to move safety back and forth between Wind Valley and the Bow River. A light industrial park built immediately adjacent to that crossing structure would have far reaching consequences. This underpass was built in 2003 as part of a foresighted effort by residents of the Bow Valley to respect the regional wildlife corridor that extends between Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. It would be very short sighted to sacrifice it.”
Legault points out that three grizzly cubs have been killed on the Trans-Canada Highway nearby in the last few years, including one on May 20th of this year. The Grizzly Bear Recovery Strategy, released by the Province of Alberta on June 1, places an emphasis on connecting grizzly bear populations across Hwy 1 and other busy transportation corridors in the province.
“Wildlife biologists tell us this corridor is currently well used by many species, including elk and grizzly bears. The Bow Valley is one of the most heavily developed landscapes on earth that still supports populations of grizzly bears and other carnivores. We’re looking to all the members of the Bow Valley community to play their role to ensure wildlife can thrive in this place; it’s what makes the Bow Valley special.”
Legault was part of the team that helped secure funding during the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis Country that supported the development of the underpass.
The hearing before the Municipal Governance Board begins on Monday, June 20th. The appeal was filed by the Town of Canmore against the MD of Bighorn. The Stoney First Nation has filed as an intervener so that their concerns about the importance of wildlife connectivity are represented.
For further comment, contact:
Stephen Legault, Y2Y Program Director - Alberta, Crown and Northwest Territories
(cell) 403-688-2964 | firstname.lastname@example.org