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!




Do you support working with the province to close Canmore's recreational trails at certain times and spots to protect wildlife? Please explain your answer.

John Borrowman

(mayoral candidate)

I am interested in working with the province in a collaborative way to manage the more complex aspects of coexistence, and manage conflict situations within the Town. The Town doesn’t have the resources that exist at the provincial level and it would be expensive to add those in to our municipal operations. My hope is that the Round Table process that I have initiated with the MLA will lead to a more comprehensive management approach to address these issues within the Town.

I want to be clear that I don’t think trails should necessarily be closed whenever there is wildlife in the area – which there always is. Closures should be an approach that is applied on a situational basis, with understanding of the likelihood of a conflict situation happening. 

Ed Russell

(mayoral candidate)

We must work with the province on the management of our trails to protect wildlife. Wildlife is the responsibility of the province. We need to take direction from them when we are encountering challenges with wildlife. We must also, bring them in when we have information they may not have. Cooperation and communication will give us strong tools to manage our interaction with our wildlife.

Mark Blackwood

Yes absolutely we should be closing trails seasonally, both in spring (elk calving), and in fall for the rut.

Also anytime any bear or cougar are spotted the area must be shut down, and then enforced as a closed area. No people, no bikes, and no dogs. The town of Canmore must work closely with the province and conservation officers as well as by-law to ticket and or charge individuals not respecting these closures.

Wes Christensen

Work with Fish and Wildlife and educate the public that a no go zone is a NO GO ZONE CLOSED.

Enforcement with heavy fines and /or social media chastisement. That would be a start.

Esme Comfort

The Town of Canmore needs to work closely with neighbouring jurisdictions and authorities to get to the place where we can begin to solve our wildlife/human conflicts. There are many aspects to consider: from land use through education to provision of facilities through enforcement and legislation. If the evidence deems that closures are necessary, then yes, I support those, but I want to see a full strategy, not a piecemeal, knee-jerk and potentially ineffective solution.

Kim Csizmazia


Canmore is an environmental hotbed. I see opportunity in environmental excellence. I see opportunity in co-existing with wildlife. And, I see economic opportunity in expanding our knowledge and science-based sectors around the mountain environment, threatened species, water, and glaciers as some examples. 

Closing recreational trails for the needs of our wildlife is a responsibility I would take seriously.

Chris Dmytriw

Yes!  We must all respect that our town is built in the middle of a major wildlife transition area. A golf course may loose revenue by closing down for a short time. But that’s the price for opening a course in such a spectacular setting. The same goes with the Nordic Centre or elsewhere. It would be disappointing to come all the way from Calgary only to find it closed for biking. But we must allow the bears to pass. The Nordic centre is actually part of the wild life corridor system and it is important that we respect these initiatives! Having said all this…I do believe that there is a way to make it more appealing for the bears to be elsewhere, so that these trails do not have to be closed.

Chad Friel

Yes I support working with the province to close trails at certain times to protect wildlife. Just like hunters have to wait for certain seasons. As recreationalists we also need to respect animal numbers and movement. And let's face it we weren't here first, the animals have had their habitat changed so much in the past 150 years. They have done a great job at adapting to so many humans, but we also need to respect and adapt for them. I'd be happy to work with the province and Parks Canada, if possible, to monitor trails, animals, and people. By doing so we can close trails when they need to be, and open them at earliest convenience. There are lots of trails and lots of activities, I have no problem running around the river or on the other side of the valley if there is a Bear in another area. 

Jeff Hilstad

Absolutely I support collaborating with the province to close recreational trails in Canmore when it is required to do so. We also need to help raise community awareness. One way in which we could raise community awareness is by the placement of a portable LED traffic sign with bear messaging on it in areas where the bears are more active and there is a greater possibility of human interaction. This is a practical way to inform the public of the risk so that they can take the necessary precautions when in the area and respect the trail closures in place.

Jill Jamieson

Yes I do support working with Province on trail closures and trail management. I recognize that we are at a point of clarifying human use management. 

I would be interested in pursuing with our Provincial land manager partners a nuanced approach to trail closures. 

This important work involves a culture change and that requires excellent public education, outreach and enhanced support from conservation officers. 

Jeff Laidlaw

Yes, absolutely. We must collaborate and cooperate with all levels of government to protect and preserve our wildlife and environment. The reasons are twofold.

1) Without question protecting the wildlife is the goal and I am committed to trying to work towards making Canmore the model community for co-existence and being Wildsmart.

2) It’s also about protecting the public. If the Town does not close the trails and an incident occurs and it’s on town land, the question of liability and negligence certainly comes in to play. I understand that the town administration may not agree but I’ve seen civil action undertaken and successful with less reasonable rationale.

James Louden

No response.

Yes I would support this for the safety of wildlife and humans. As we have learned from the experts there are certain seasonal events for wildlife like rutting season for the elk, grizzly bears with their new cubs to name a few. Wildlife becomes a little more aggressive. Although, grizzly moms tend to move closer to us for safety from the male grizzlies that may kill their cubs. So this is where co-habitation comes in.

Karen Marra

Joanna McCallum

Yes, I could support working with the province to close Canmore’s recreational trails at certain times. But the closures need to be very strategic, based on science and cannot be in the place of education and enforcement. The provincial government and our neighbouring municipalities need to be active partners. Wildlife is all around us and we need to manage the urban landscape to ensure that attractions are eliminated and take responsibility for our resident conduct in the corridors so that we are not blurring the lines for wildlife. 

Vi Sandford

Yes, we will have to work closely with our Provincial partners to consider all options, including seasonal closures of recreational trails, to support and facilitate the movement of wildlife through the Bow Valley. Most of Canmore is surrounded by land designated Wildlands Conservation District, with permitted uses being wildlife habitat and wildlife corridors. The primary reason for zoning these lands WC was to provide habitat and cover, for wild animals as they successfully move through our region. One of the many discretionary uses for WC is “Trails for non-Motorized Use”.  If the discretionary uses need to be modified during certain seasons, this would support and respect the permitted or primary use for WC lands. Attractant management is a very important part of managing the wildlife/human interface on biking and hiking trails, and in all neighbourhoods, especially those near areas zoned for wildlands conservation, habitat patches and corridors.

Rob Seeley

Yes, our wildlife asset needs to be protected. Coexistence is a priority and working with wild smart, Alberta Parks, CAMBA and other community stakeholders,  to inform and manage trail closures. This is an important priority and a will become community conversation.