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!




What do you consider the biggest obstacle for wildlife in the Bow Valley and how would you work towards fixing that problem?

John Borrowman

(mayoral candidate)

The biggest obstacle for wildlife in the Bow Valley is us - we don’t seem to grasp the concept of co-existence in the valley. We have to change the culture, to one that fully endorses the importance of managing human use and co-existence. Town council initiated a process in the spring of 2014 to address the community-wide issue of human use in wildlife corridors and habitat patches, resulting in the 2015 Human Use Management Review. We have since been implementing recommendations within that report, to create better adherence regarding the use of our trails and open spaces – and encourage better respect for the vision and need to avoid conflict situations.

I have recently taken the leadership to initiate round table discussions on the issues of co-existence, which will involve governmental and locally respected non-governmental organizations with expertise regarding wildlife corridors and co-existence – and provide some opportunity for meaningful public engagement.

Ed Russell

(mayoral candidate)

People are the biggest obstacle for wildlife in the Bow Valley. While I recognize that tourism
drives a lot of our economy, we cannot forsake the wildlife in the name of tourism income. We
have to address animal safety, immediately followed by safety. We have highly skilled officers in
the provincial Fish and Wildlife service and the conservation office service. We need to be
partners in protection. If that means someone loses a bike ride, or a swim, so be it. Remember
the movie “Jaws”? Restricted access or denial of access need to be recognized as a fact of life in
our community.

Mark Blackwood

I personally feel the biggest obstacle for wildlife in the Bow Valley is The Trans-Canada highway between Banff's east gate and Lac Des Arcs. A common sense solution would be to fence between these areas on both sides of the highway. We must also consider the development of more animal under and overpasses. This has been proven time and time again to be an effective solution.

Wes Christensen

First of all I am saddened by the death of bear 148, and I feel we as citizens of Canmore are partially responsible. We need more education out there. but how to control the few that refuse to obey signage, I believe more enforcement and publish the repeat offenders on social media.

Esme Comfort

The Bow Valley is chock-a-block with obstacles and interruptions to a smooth passage for wildlife through the area: the TCH, Hwy 1A, the railway, as well as residential and commercial development. All of these have one thing in common: humans. The problem will never be "fixed". The best we can hope to do is to mitigate the problems humans cause for wildlife. At this time, measured development that allows for movement of species on and through the landscape combined with as many tools and strategies as feasible (affordable and effective) is the best way forward, in my opinion. Other possibilities, such as land trusts, should be pursued, to ensure the robustness of the wildlife corridors. 

Kim Csizmazia


1) The current proposed developments by Three Sisters Mountain Village and by Silvertip. Both areas contain wildlife corridors/wildlife-travel routes that are the last places where large animals can move through our valley and past Canmore, unimpeded.

2) Thousands of people, and people with off-leash dogs, in the corridors—both these things will deter animals from using the corridors.

3) People who enter closed areas—this is the major reason that Bear 148 kept running into people, and why she was relocated up north at risk to her life.

As a baseline, I would look to find an inspired and emotional WHY, a “YES we can do this” that unites people in a reason to change.

Chris Dmytriw

With out a doubt…Humans!  Sadly, I don’t think the problem can be fixed. All I think we can do is limit the outward sprawl and densify the inner part of town. I think that the wild should remain wild and the domesticated as such. We should separate the two as much as possible. We should enter our wilds as a diver enters the ocean. We should all be educated of what sharing the wild means.  

Chad Friel

The biggest obstacle for wildlife in the valley is us. The key to limit the effects to wildlife and wildlife corridors is slow down development in undeveloped areas. There may come a time when we will need more properties but there are currently many places downtown that can be developed. Taking the time to do studies and find where wildlife do and don't go is also necessary. My answer in question three discussing the ambassador program will also help with this problem.

Jeff Hilstad

The biggest obstacle for wildlife in the Bow Valley is human interaction. We need to look at increased education, signage and enforcement of our corridors as recommended by the Town of Canmore’s recent Human Use Management Review. We should also look at enforcing trail closures as they are required and reducing unofficial trails in habitat patches and corridors to help reduce wildlife/human conflict. This is not just a Town of Canmore concern but a provincial responsibility as well. Provincial funding to ensure that there are sufficient financial resources in place to increase effective enforcement of trail closures is also needed. We need to step up as a community in our respect for wildlife and our stewardship of the environment.

Keep dogs on leash when required, stick to the official trails and do our best to give wildlife the space it needs. We know the boundaries, the wildlife does not.

Jill Jamieson

There are a host of challenges to wildlife living in the Bow Valley; habitat loss due to human use and development, highways, trains, human use of wildlife corridors, off leash dog use of wildlife corridors. Some mitigation strategies are effective – highway fencing, wild life over passes in the national park and the highway underpass near the eastern end of the valley. These strategies are provincial and federal in scope.

The town has some influence in working with our land management partners to plan and educate. It is a shift for many of us not to have access to trails at all times. However, if we hope to maintain animals on the land, and connectivity of the landscape, we likely need to address our habits and expectations for access. I know that communication with land managers working for a more nuanced approach to trail access will be useful.
Further, working with developers to maintain commitments to wildlife corridors is essential.

Jeff Laidlaw

The biggest obstacle is the inherent presumption that human needs and recreation needs exceed those of the wildlife; and I would try to establish a wildlife policy/set of policies for the Town of Canmore that recognized the need for a better balance. I would also like to work closely with our citizens, Alberta Environment and Parks, and Fish and Wildlife to come to a better and more cooperative understanding of how we successfully co-exist; rather than presuming an animal is a problem animal when it may be human activity that is the root of the problem.

James Louden

No response to the email.

Karen Marra

I believe the biggest obstacle for wildlife is movement throughout the valley connecting them to habitat patches with minimal negative human interaction. That's where responsible development comes into play, studies have shown us which areas need more attention than others. These studies need to be a part of the decision making.

Joanna McCallum

Fluid movement of wildlife though the wildlife corridors/patches without human obstruction and inappropriate recreation in those corridors by humans and their dogs are the largest issue for wildlife movement. Creating appropriate recreation opportunities for people outside of those corridors and working on enforcement through our provincial partners.

Vi Sandford

The biggest obstacle to wildlife movement in the Bow Valley is human presence in the corridors. Human activity should be regulated by enforcement, and the worrisome activities recorded in recent wildlife camera data collected, should be intentionally addressed. Biking in the corridors with off-leash dogs alongside, should be prohibited, with a hefty fine associated with non-compliance. Full area closures (to humans and pets) should be considered where necessary, but the corridors should be improved and modified to keep the species moving through them. In consultation with our MLA, Alberta Fish and Wildlife, Alberta Environment and Parks, Parks Canada, BCEAG (Bow Corridor Ecosystem Advisory Group), MD (Municipal District) of Bighorn, we should evaluate how attractive the corridors are for movement. If animals linger too long in habitat, it should be closed.

Rob Seeley

Human use in wildlife corridors. Work with the community and environmental constituency to look deeper into this are and take action. Consider more off leash dog parks and enforcement in our wildlife corridors. The Trans-Canada highway, Three Sisters Parkway, railway and where development has already happened are also big obstacles.