The Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) is a company that owns 80% of the remaining developable land in Canmore . In other words, they have the potential to forever change the fabric of our community, depending on the the types of developments they propose. Indeed, in late 2020, they submitted two Area Structure Plans (ASPs) to Canmore’s Town Council: the Village Centre ASP and the Smith Creek ASP. Collectively, these proposals called for a doubling of the size of Canmore, growth beyond our Urban Growth Boundary, blanketting a large area zoned for wildlife conservation with thousands of houses, and insufficient emphasis on affordable housing. The sheer audaciousness of the proposals, and the lack of respect they showed for our community, mobilized an unprecedented number of citizens to organize under the Bow Valley Engage banner to express concern. Here’s how the campaign unfolded:
• Dec 31, 2020 — BVE relaunches the bowvalleyengage.com website
• Feb 11, 2021 — TSMV ASPs pass First Reading unanimously by Town Council
• Feb 12, 2021 — BVE launches a Facebook page
• Feb 23, 2021 — BVE hosts a TSMV info session that attracts over 1,000 attendees, making it Canmore’s largest public meeting ever.
• March 9, 2021 — Hundreds of citizens make compelling, well-researched presentations during what turned out to be a 6-day Public Hearing – the longest ever recorded in Canmore’s history
• April 27, 2021 — Town Council gives 2nd Reading to the Village Centre ASP, and unanimously rejects the Smith Creek ASP, largely due to the extent of development beyond the longstanding Urban Growth Boundary.
• May 6, 2021 — BVE buys the biggest newspaper ad in our town’s history in order to list the more than 1,500 signatures requesting Town Council to significantly amend or reject the Village Centre ASP
• May 22, 2021 — BVE organizes Canmore’s biggest public art installation ever – the “Footprint of Concern”.
• May 25, 2021 — Town Council rejects the Village Centre ASP in a 6-1 decision
Despite our Community’s huge win, it really is just a reprieve from the decades-long history of bad proposals that have been put forward for these lands (see Canmore Commons’ great write up of the history here). Indeed, on June 17, 2021, TSMV filed a judicial review of Town Council’s decision to reject the Smith Creek area structure plan, and followed with an appeal to the Municipal Government Board a few weeks later. And then they filed an appeal and judicial review of the Village Centre ASP as well. To escalate matters with our community further, TSMV recently posted no trespassing signs posted everywhere, blocking access points to key public trails that have been used for decades.
With these actions, we can only conclude that despite the years of TSMV rhetoric that they’re listening to (and care about) the community, it’s clear that they’re not listening at all. That’s why BVE is also focusing on the upcoming October 18, 2021 municipal election; we need good candidates to run who will continue to uphold our community values around human-wildlife coexistence, affordable housing, and responsible development.