Canmore Development: In the News Part 1

What is going on in Canmore right now?

Answer: There is A LOT going on in Canmore right now.
As Realtors, we are of course interested in anything that affects our industry and the service and knowledge that we provide our clients. But real estate is not the point of this blog. It's bigger than that. The how, why and what we develop (or not), on the last remaining developable land in Canmore is bigger than housing too. It's already a contentious, cut throat and hot topic for local residents of Canmore, and just as cut throat and hot of a market, for those trying to get here. I think with those two opposing swings of the pendulum, it's important that we are all talking about and informing ourselves about the heart of Canmore, the world class, and beloved Bow Valley region, outside of very narrow media reporting.
I'm not going to use this particular blog to go into too much detail of the thirty year history of this land. There is a convoluted, hard to follow, back and forth, political history with these lands, including a change of policy from the NDP to UCP governments that has put our wildlife corridor in jeopardy and may have tied the hands of our Town Council in terms of what options they have after this second reading.

This week, the communities of Canmore and Stoney Nakoda are speaking out in a series of days-long video presentations to Town Council as they determine if they should or shouldn't pass a third reading of two Area Structure Plans (ASP): Three Sisters Mountain Village and Smith Creek.

But let's be clear: Should or shouldn't is waaayyy too simple.

This March 4, 2021 Rocky Mountain Outlook commentary letter by Bart Robinson says it all.
He actually goes on to trash the information available on the Town's website (ironically, a link I've provided below).

... [the Town] inexplicably asks its citizens to self-educate by plowing through 600 pages of technical documents."

It's complicated. That much we can all agree on. If you want to get up to speed, here are a few local resources, for those wanting to get informed. 

**I am not, nor do I claim to be an expert or representative of any kind**
 I am solely sharing information in an easy to reach format for those who want it:

Part of the reason I want to start sharing news articles and snippets from the Canmore Town Council YouTube channel, is to share some of the stories that aren't making the news. You know how it goes. Snippets, but not whole stories. Narrow perspectives. Headlines, but not real people or emotions. Lack of nuance and context. 
It all feels a bit like that #fakenews concept.

It has also been pretty clear when journalists haven't made it through all nine hours of presenters each day.
(Nor have I, but I'm working on it). I'm flipping between recorded Day 2 presentations and live on Night 3 right now.
Day 1 is done and highlighted in this post, because many critical voices, namely the scientific/ecological/biological presentations haven't made the news ... yet. Let's change that.

These voices are critical because what is happening in Canmore with this land development proposal affects the environment, wildlife and political landscape for more than just our small community.

This isn't just another development.
This is a global tipping point, as much as a local one.
A social tipping point, as much as a political one.
And people are speaking out.

Please take some time to click into some of the links I've shared to get some backstory, some full(er) perspective reporting, and some insight into what else is going on outside of "just another development, with residents crying NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)". 

This affects the community of Canmore, which is located on Treaty 7 Territory and forms a critical piece of wildlife corridor which forms a part of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative; "a region which spans five American states, two Canadian provinces, two Canadian territories, and the traditional territories of at least 75 Indigenous groups." excerpt taken from

I believe it's important that these stories reach as many people as possible, whether Canmore is on your radar or not, but it likely is, with 2020 seeing an unprecedented 5.39 million visitors to the Kananaskis Country region. The five year average being 3.78 million per annum.

So here is what started this blog: the main stream media covering our local story.

And here, you can find more of the presentations and perspectives that have been missed by main stream media.

As I work to gather snippets of video clips, in the meantime, I'll be sharing some YouTube clips at the starting point and reference the end point (unless you get hooked and just keep watching, all the better). 

I do recommend increasing the playback speed any chance you get to shave a couple hours off your watching time!

Day One Highlights:

Note her response to the question whether or not fencing wildlife corridors is affective anywhere else, to her knowledge; in short, it's never been done in this context, and only exists in one other unique scenario, not related to development.

There was a presentation from wildlife photographer John Marriott on Day 3, who visited a different wildlife corridor in the area, and it gives a very impactful and in-person perspective that is missing and provides some context when simply viewing maps, lines and red arrows.
Well worth watching here.

Note Councillor Comfort's question/comment at 3:13: She's referencing the province of Alberta's role or hold over their decision making capabilities. Back to Bart Robinson's comment about self-educating ourselves, and my comment about this being a provincial issue. 
- - Here's a link to the full 23:18 award winning documentary Living with Wildlife - - 

Dr. Sarah Elmeligi: Talks about the critical Kananaskis Country habitat known as Wind Valley and how the Smith Creek development would impact this wildlife corridor area negatively (4:19:09 - 4:33:27)
Note the reference of the province's control over the movement new wildlife corridor underpass. At the 4:29:-- mark, the width of the wildlife corridor originally proposed in 2004, as compared to the now, is referenced.

Her ask for higher building standards by the developer, to keep lower GHGs in our community, and her comments on the declared climate crisis were met with a reminder that Alberta currently does not have a net zero development policy.

Note rather than answer about this important, but confusing sticking point about the NRCB, she was asked what or how she thought our affordable housing issue could be solved.

 (5:54:45 - 6:04:00)
Note Council asked him about the proposed wildlife corridor fencing, his response was that it was a risky approach and did not support it.

The Bow Valley is a recognized leader in Truth and Reconciliation and there are many presenters who have this shared sentiment and performed a land acknowledgement. Personal note: her suggestion to Council about the connection between head and heart makes me cry every time.

Note Councillor McCallum's comment/question about higher levels of government making decisions regarding wildlife corridors and undermining, eluding to what the Town actually has control over and what they don't in terms of their considerations.

Dr. Aerin Jacob: A Conservation Biologist and Scientist with Y2Y who shares her perspective on ecological connectivity and animal movement which is essential for animal survival and key for healthy and functioning ecosystems, on a global to local scale. She shares that there are only four key places in the Canadian Rockies for animal crossings that run East to West, and that is why the Bow Valley is so important for regional and continental connectivity. She shares a new research paper regarding how human activity affects animal habitat, as well as information from another new study mapping animal movement, and shares a model predicting future impacted migration patterns with the proposed development. She believes we have reached a point where we have enough studies and data showing wildlife and environmental impacts and that we can start making better environmental decisions. (7:24:30- 7:43:30)
Note the pre-print study map she shares was used again on Day 3 in John Marriott's presentation (here's the link again).

I hope you find this information informative and that it pushes you to keep looking for additional resources surrounding today's current events. I don't believe the headlines to be reflective of the real issues.

The world is changing, faster than we could ever imagine. As mentioned before, we have reached a tipping point where our local decisions in our small mountain town of just 15,000 people could have a global impact. This is a perspective that is being screamed for attention by today's youth, students, scientists and environmentalists and the people who currently live, work and play in Canmore and the surrounding region.

Have something to add? Have something to say? Do you have a housing or real estate question in this context?
Please reach out across any of our platforms: @liveworkplaycanmore