Frequently asked questions
Community Conversation: March 22, 2017
These questions were all asked by Canmore residents at the Community Conversation, a Y2Y-hosted event, and answers were provided by the experts who were in attendance. If you would like further clarity, please send us a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to get it answered by the appropriate person.
Please note: Some questions and answers have been edited and/or condensed for clarity.
Q: Why isn't the province looking at the wildlife corridor around the Resort Centre section of the Three Sisters? Shouldn't they be now that the golf course is no longer proposed?
A from Ron Casey, former Canmore mayor and former Conservative MLA: Yes, there is a realistic expectation that, in fact, the province would review that corridor as well. That said, there's no request in from the developer to move that corridor so the adjacent uses are changes but the province has not been asked to address that by the developer. Really, they are here to respond to a request from the developer.
The question is whether the community is happy with that answer or not. If you are not happy with that answer, then I would suggest you let the province know that you want to see a cumulative effect on all of the developments proposals that are in place today.
Q: Is the Minister of Environment and Parks and the province legally bound to do a cumulative impact assessment for the Bow Valley?
A from Stephen Legault, program director with Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative: The minister has the opportunity.
In the NRCB ruling of 1992, there's a statement that says you will consider the cumulative impacts. So this is an opportunity the minister has used to say we actually have to look at everything that is going on. That case has been made to her in writing and what she decides to do with it of course is her prerogative.
The best way to get it is for us to demand it right now. The whole decision-making process is quasi-regulatory. It falls outside the normal scope of the regulatory process of the province. Even the decision maker, Roger Ramcharita, says that this is unlike any other decision-making process that the province has made before.
Q: Does anybody really know how many more people would be coming to the valley if this development — or any of the four developments — come to be? What's the process of determining whether that number of people is the correct number of people for this valley?
A from Steve de Keijzer, former town planner with the Town of Canmore: I don't have the exact numbers, but it's 10,000 to 15,000 residents and possibly the same number of visitors. Three Sisters has about 2,500 residential units and about 1,500 hotels.
Some would say the Bow Valley has exceeded its maximum capacity a long time ago.
A from an unidentified member in the audience: There is one number that we've seen and it's a buildout capacity of 34,000 (for the Town of the Canmore). That is not specifically saying that development could bring 34,000 to the Bow Valley; that's what Canmore's capacity has been planned for.
Q: What's the infrastructure that is going to support an additional 11,000 people in Three Sisters and another several thousand in Silvertip?
A from Michael Fark, general manager of municipal infrastructure with the Town of Canmore: From a purely technical perspective, the town looks at infrastructure on a long-term basis. We do infrastructure master plans and transportation master plans. As a general rule, growth must pay for growth. For Three Sisters development, for example, the cost to build that infrastructure must be borne by Three Sisters. Similarly for Silvertip. Normally that's managed by our offset levy model and we review things like the wastewater treatment plant to determine what levels it need to be at to be able to manage (the development). We don't wait for it to hit 30,000 people before we say, 'Oh, actually we need to build a facility.'
It's a massive plan, it takes into consideration what the longterm build out will be and ensures developers contribute to that cost.
A from Ron Casey: I would just like to emphasize we spend a lot of time talking about physical infrastructure, and we should be, but we also need to be concerned about the carrying capacity of our environment because, of course, that matters to all of us. One of the pieces that very seldom gets the playtime it deserves is the social carrying capacity of this community. How much is too much? How many people can we possibly sustain before we lose the very things that makes this place great as a community? That's what I am really passionate about is the carrying capacity of us as a community ... if the carrying capacity of this community is to sustain itself as a caring, compassionate community about this place? That's the piece we don't have any information about, because we haven't sat down as a community as of late to talk about what is important to us. What are we willing to compromise and what are we not?
Q: If I understand correctly, it's a provincial decision of where the wildlife corridor is going to be But it seems like the municipal wheels are already in motion. If the province hasn't yet ruled where that line is, how can we have area structure plans and things happening on the municipal level?
A from Michael Fark: The short answer is that the responsibility for the corridor designation is with the province. However, the town has received an ASP (area structure plan) designation from the developer and we are obligated by legislation to process that so we are obligated by legislation to bring that forward. The first step of that is to give first reading so it becomes formally within the public realm so the public can formally comment on it.
Until such time as it is given first reading, it is not formally before council for consideration.
The process that has been set out will allow the province's decision on the corridor to be known prior to council having the public hearing. The public will have the opportunity to know what the corridor designation is and have that formal discussion with council at the public hearing (during second reading?).
A from Steve de Keijzer: There is no timeline obligation on council to deal with their (proposal).
Response from Fark: Landowners have rights under timely legislation in common law that it is not an option for an application not to proceed. They must process it in a timely fashion. The timely processing of the application is required.
A from Ron Casey: There absolutely is no timeframe for an area structure plan to come forward. You must accept it in process. You gotta stamp it, you gotta put it on the shelf but the first area structure plan Three Sisters ever did is still sitting on a shelf somewhere in the town office. That never saw the light of day. There is no timeframe. That's one of the reasons why area structure plans and land use are totally within the purview of the municipal council of the day — to process those applications when you choose to bring them forward. This could come forward now, in six months or whenever the council of the day feels like it. I'm sorry, but it's just not true that there's a timeframe around this.
A from Lisa de Soto, chief administrative officer for the Town of Canmore: I wanted to comment on the question around process and why the town is moving forward with first reading. I have been very involved in the discussions with timing. It actually goes back to when Three Sisters first came out of receivership, which is right around the time when this council was elected. These are difficult questions and difficult subject matters and the staff and council work hard to discuss how to wrestle with these issues.
During strategic planning, one of the objectives of this council was to, once and for all, try to work with the developer to try and delineate the wildlife corridors on that side of the valley to give clarity on this community on something we've been wrestling with for decades. That process requires us to work with the developer to see what they're proposing. The only recent application has gone into the province for delineation of the wildlife corridors so they can bring the wildlife is so that they can bring a development application forward.
When I sat down with Roger Ramcharita of the province in February — we got all three stakeholder parties involved (the town, the province and the developer, Quantum Place Developments) and we worked together on a schedule that makes sense. At that time, Roger strongly requested that the town put the ASP application in the public realm. As Mike pointed out earlier, it's in the public realm when it's in a council agenda for first reading.
First reading is just that — it's saying here's an application that comes before council and it starts a legislative process. It allows council to set a public hearing and to hear directly from the public. We hammered out a timeline and the developers submitted their ASP application a full four weeks in advance of the proposed first reading. They didn't have to submit that application at that time. They could have waited for the corridor to be delineated. However, it was the province's request that the ASP be submitted at the same time. So we've been working with all stakeholders to try and bring clarity on the whole wildlife corridor delineation.
Q: How do we deal with concerns about social, financial and quality of life concerns that these developmentS could have on our community?
A from Tracey Henderson, resident of Canmore: That's an excellent idea. This is more than just a wildlife issue. The important distinction is to express those concerns to members of the municipal government rather than the provincial government. The provincial government is deciding on wildlife corridors; the municipal government is deciding the degree and scale of what is happening on private land.