Three Sisters wildlife corridor application rejected by province


An application for a new wildlife corridor that could have led to more development in the Bow Valley has been rejected by the provincial government.

Three Sisters Mountain Village applied in January 2017 to Alberta Environment and Parks for the Smith Creek wildlife corridor, which would have established an area for wildlife movement and allowed the development to take a step forward.

In a decision released June 26th, the province said the application wasn't satisfactory.

“The application contains several positive aspects to maintain wildlife movement," Roger Ramcharita, executive director of Alberta Environment and Parks, wrote in his decision. "But there are deficiencies which must be addressed to ensure that the wildlife corridor will achieve the purposes stated ... over the very long term."

Three Sisters Mountain Village said on its Facebook page that it's disappointed with the evaluation of its application by Alberta Environment and Parks.

"The province has repeatedly shared that TSMV submitted a quality application with significant peer-reviewed science on wildlife corridor movement," they wrote. 

The developer said they are committed to making any changes required by the province within the next six months.

Scientists and conservationists weigh in

Scientists and conservation groups were pleased with the province's decision.

"Wildlife won today! Science won today!" wrote ecologist Adam Ford on Twitter. 

Yellowstone to Yukon president Jodi Hilty, who's also the organization's chief scientist, said it's an important decision on a continental scale.

“The Bow Valley is a critical link in the chain of mountains that stretch from Yellowstone National Park to the Yukon in the north," she said in a news release. "This region has been at the heart of the international effort to keep wildlife connected over the last 25 years and this decision helps maintain that important link.”

Ford, however, added that he's concerned the province's decision is precarious.

"Add 50 metres ... and it would likely be approved," he told Canmore Commons.

Ford, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan), said more science should be done before the province accepts a 350-metre corridor as an acceptable standard for wildlife to keep moving through the busy Bow Valley.

"It's hard to know where that number has come from," he said, noting it simply may not be enough.

For more information on Three Sisters Mountain Village, please see our development page.