Election 2017:  Ask the candidates


It's time for municipal elections across Alberta.

In Canmore, the Commons is asking the candidates about their views on development and the environment. We're sending two questions to each candidate every Monday and giving them until Friday to respond. Their answers will be posted here each Monday and Thursday during the month-long campaign, which wraps up on election day: Oct. 16.

Mark your calendar so you remember to vote!




There has been a lot of discussion in the past year about developments in Three Sisters and Silvertip, and what it could mean for wildlife corridors in Canmore. What are your thoughts about having a cumulative review to address the impacts of the developments in Canmore and throughout the Bow Valley? What would you do to help make that happen?

John Borrowman

(mayoral candidate)

This is a suggestion that is worth exploring, and I support the concept in principle. The devil is in the details.

The Town of Canmore is actively engaged in cumulative studies on a regular and ongoing basis. While these studies relate primarily to development within our own municipality, they inform many long range masterplans that were developed to guide our future sustainability. These plans are generally based on a possible future population for Canmore as defined through approvals that have been in place for ten years or more (i.e. Municipal Development Plan, Environment Sustainability Action Plan, etc).

I agree that we have important work to do that will inform connectivity throughout the region,
and will commit to working with our regional and provincial partners to that end.

Ed Russell

(mayoral candidate)

We need to settle the whole development versus wildlife corridors issue. This has gone on too long. A cumulative review may not speed the process along, but we need to do something. The provincial government needs to designate the corridor so that we can all work from a common and genuine base point. At that point, we can commence working on a concrete plan in whatever form that takes. Silvertip development(s), when brought forward, will have to meet their obligations for wildlife management.

Mark Blackwood

No response to the email.

Wes Christensen

We are living in and next to wildlife corridors. Any future development has to be weighed as to the impact on wildlife VS the benefit for humans.

Esme Comfort

A cumulative review is a good idea but difficult to achieve while development proceeds. Perhaps as the SSR (Sustainability Screening Report) is completed for any particular project, or when the SSR procedure is replaced, the cumulative impact could form part of that process. A clear picture is needed of the starting point (where we are today) and then it will be possible to proceed. A great deal of the information is already available and accessible but perhaps not collated in a practical relevant way. Such a review would require a lot of resources. Who would pay for such a review? That might be a community discussion.

Kim Csizmazia

Three key points:

1) Clearly these developments will hinder the flow of wildlife through the valley.

2) Can council legally “force” any amendments, when much has been approved at the provincial level?

3) I'm not against reviews and I would suggest we look closely at the reviews that have already been done.

Chris Dmytriw

Studies have been ongoing for quite some time and I think they should continue until we have the proper boundaries put in place.  Let’s face it, the best thing for the wildlife in the Bow Valley is not to have the towns of Canmore and Banff.  But we are here, and the land in question is owned by the developer.

Canmore, the train tracks and the Trans Canada highway are smack dab in the middle of a narrow valley. These corridors are important! WE must work together.

Chad Friel

This is a tough question. First things first though we need to look at one thing at a time. There has been a lot of development lately and just doing the same thing in a different area of Canmore may not be a good idea. 

In regards to wildlife corridors we need to do extensive research in these areas. I am working with a close friend on this, do you know Jenn Stelfox? She's been a huge advocate of the corridors and we are brainstorming ideas in order to live with the animals and have very minimal impact on the animals. Personally I'd love to add an ambassador program for locals in order to be informed about the area and wildlife smarts. I'm working with CYAN (Canmore Young Adult Network) to get this going.

Jeff Hilstad

I am open to having a cumulative review that addresses the social, economic and environmental impacts of development in Canmore. A cumulative review can be looked at with the communities throughout the Bow Valley but even with that in place, each municipality makes their own decisions regarding development.

At the end of the day it comes down to what each individual community feels is best for their community. I would be willing to sit down with other communities within the Bow Valley to discuss the possibility of doing a cumulative review on development within the Bow Valley.

Jill Jamieson

Cumulative reports can be lengthy, challenging, and expensive projects. However, we may be at a watershed moment where this is exactly the kind of research that could support thoughtful planning moving forward. I understand that there is some excellent existing current research for our region that touches on many points a cumulative report would offer. I think the question is rather, what do we do with the knowledge such a report provides? That is where the truly difficult conversations happen. 

We are fortunate that wildlife corridors have been identified and established to some degree.

How to maintain them and keep them from further encroachment and human use is an additional question. Solutions are likely a combination of excellent and far reaching education/outreach and increased law enforcement.

Jeff Laidlaw

Yes, a cumulative impact review would be a great idea; to assure connectivity of corridors, food source, cover, and a host of other issues. My personal view, for what it's worth, is that wildlife corridors can rarely be too big or too wide.

I have already been in touch many times with Alberta Environment and Parks on this issue, and even if I'm not elected will continue to push strongly for a Cumulative Impact Study. If elected, I would probably try to use the title to expand my reach on the push for this to happen.

James Louden

No response to the questions

Karen Marra

Our wildlife corridors are a very important part of the Bow Valley. We must be respectful of environment and wildlife while finding a balance to co-exist.

I believe we need to do a review of all current and new fact based research, provided by the experts and community before approving responsible development in these areas that effect these corridors. Working together is key. 

Joanna McCallum

The Town of Canmore could choose to direct a cumulative review but without the cooperation of our surrounding neighbours it would not be a complete study as our landscapes are interdependent ecologically. Canmore does not have the jurisdiction to order our neighbours to participate so we need to influence change in the realm in which we have control. Our control lay in taking the Human Use Management review seriously as a community and plugging faithfully away at the recommendations that we have committed to.

Additionally, we need to continue to lobby the province in doing their part to promote functionality and viability in the corridors. The issue of enforcement needs to be taken very seriously by the province and more provincial financial resources need to be dedicated. Canmore sends more than enough economic benefit to Edmonton through property taxes and visitor spend to compensate for the cost of proper enforcement. It is my belief that through the round table discussions that are occurring with the province and our neighbours, the province will start to take this issue very, very seriously.

Vi SandforD

The Town of Canmore has carried out a Human Use Management Review (HUMR) to manage the intensity of human use in wildlife corridors. Attractant management, signage and education, creating recreational trails away from the corridors, that meet the needs of cyclists and off-leash dog walkers, are potential ways to diminish the impacts of human use on the corridors we also use for recreation. The first exploratory meeting on human-wildlife coexistence took place a few weeks ago when MLA Cam Westhead and Canmore Mayor John Borrowman co-hosted the first exploratory meeting on human-wildlife coexistence. There were representatives from the Town of Banff, including Mayor Karen Hunter Sorensen, Parks Canada, Alberta Environment and Parks, and an observer from the MD of Bighorn. A technical group will be formed to determine next steps for inter-agency collaboration on this important topic. I support concerted inter-agency efforts to address this pressing issue.

Rob Seeley

With approved area structure plans already in place for both Silvertip and Three Sisters, a comprehensive review may cloud the issue and likely should have happened for all of Canmore. I support appropriate development, functional wildlife corridors with enhanced human management.