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The importance of the Bow Valley

Y2Y calls on you to emphasize value of wildlife corridors in the Bow Valley and the need to make decisions rooted in the best available knowledge for their long-term viability.

Status of Three Sisters Development Proposals

On Tuesday, May 2, in front of a full house, Canmore town councillors voted unanimously to reject the Three Sisters Resort Centre Area Structure Plan (ASP) amendment at first reading.

That means there will be no change to the 2004 ASP, keeping development off the heavily undermined and unfinished golf course, leaving those lands as part of the wildlife corridor through the Three Sisters region.

We encourage you to for their bold decision on behalf of our community and wildlife.

The Smith Creek proposal that aims to connect Canmore to Dead Man’s Flats is currently on pause while the province reviews the applicant’s proposed wildlife corridor  as well as the hundreds of letters written by concerned citizens like you.

We expect an announcement from the province sometime in June. If the corridor is approved, the Smith Creek ASP will then proceed to Canmore council. We will provide dates when we know them.

Photo: Stephen Legault

The Risk of Severing the Bow Valley

Y2Y calls on you to emphasize the value of wildlife corridors in the Bow Valley and the need to make decisions rooted in the best available knowledge for their long-term viability.

The Bow Valley is the primary corridor for wildlife that need to move between the protected habitats of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country ― grizzlies, cougars, wolves, coyotes, elk and others.

It is a vital link in the heart of the 3,200-km long Yellowstone to Yukon region, one of the world’s last best hopes at maintaining an interconnected landscape at a scale animals truly require.

Severing or substantially compromising this connectivity corridor means risking the persistence of iconic species locally and in our broader regional landscape.

Long wildlife corridors like those that surround Canmore must be wide, flat and far from development, otherwise we risk isolating wildlife populations.

Secluded populations cannot share their genetic diversity and the resilience it provides, leading to localized extinctions that weaken the entire population of a species.

Developments currently proposed for Three Sisters, Dead Man’s Flats light industrial, and Silvertip Resort will nearly double the size of Canmore’s population, draw in more than one million additional tourists a year within 10 years, and squeeze this valley’s iconic wildlife into increasingly narrow bands of steep terrain.

Make a Difference Today

Stemming from the 1992 NRCB decision, Alberta Environment and Parks is responsible for indicating where the official wildlife corridor around Three Sisters Mountain Village would be.

The Town of Canmore is then responsible for approving the details of developments adjacent to the corridors set by the Province.

Both the Province of Alberta and the Town of Canmore need to hear that our community cares deeply about wildlife.

Any development that compromises wildlife is not in the best interest of Canmore. We must err on the side of caution as we make these final decisions about the fate of our valley.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative urges you to contact decision makers provincially and municipally. Please emphasize the value of wildlife corridors in the Bow Valley and the need to make decisions rooted in the best available knowledge of their long-term viability rather than a needlessly accelerated timeline.

Living with wildlife is part of what makes Canmore great. We need a clear vision for how wildlife will continue to live in and move through the Bow Valley.

That plan must consider the combined impact all major new developments in the Valley will have on quality of life and wildlife movement through an internationally significant corridor.

Take Action!

1. Write to Shannon Phillips, Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, and copy to Banff-Cochrane MLA Cam Westhead, reiterating the need for an assessment of the cumulative impacts that development proposals in the Bow Valley could have, including those at Three Sisters, Dead Man’s Flats light industrial and Silvertip.

2. Review the proposed Area Structure Plans for Smith Creek and send your comments to Canmore Town Council: council@canmore.ca.

3. The public comment period on the developer’s proposed wildlife corridor around Smith Creek concluded on April 20. On April 26 the province announced that they would take an additional four to eight weeks to review the application. A draft decision is now expected in June. Those who commented prior to the April 20 deadline will then have opportunity to comment on the draft decision. Details to follow.

4. As of April 27, the Smith Creek proposal will not be tabled for first reading until the province has made a decision on the wildlife corridor. We will provide more dates as they become available.

5. Keep up to date by checking in with community sites like Canmore Commons and Bow Valley Engage.

6. Reach out to your personal network and encourage them to join you in steps 1 to 5. 

Bow Valley Corridor Priorities

Decisions on the corridor must be based on these considerations:

1. The combined impacts within a highly-developed valley matter. These include Smith Creek and Resort Centre ASPs, the ASP amendment in Silvertip, light industrial development at Dead Man’s Flats, Highway 1, the railway and future population growth.

2. The steeper the slope, the less it is used. The vast majority of large mammal movement happens on slopes of less than 25 degrees ― the equivalent of a black diamond ski run.

3. Wider is almost always better, especially when a corridor needs to accommodate carnivores. Animals respond to disturbances they encounter directly, but also to disturbances they sense in their vicinity. And not all individuals are the same. This corridor must accommodate as many animals as possible.

4. If human use of the corridor is the major issue in this town, how is adding 10,000 people a solution? The proponents insist that Canmore residents are the problem and the solution is to fence us in.

Be a voice for sound decision-making.

Be a voice for wildlife.

Be a voice for a better Canmore.

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