The purpose of an ASP is to provide a framework for the subdivision and development of an area. This is achieved by describing, among other things, proposed land uses, public open space and trail systems, population density, environmental sensitivity, the location of transportation routes, the location and method of utility servicing, phasing of the development, any site specific issues (i.e.: escarpments, slopes, or river setbacks) and other matters Council deems necessary.
Once adopted, all future land use changes (rezoning), subsequent subdivision and development within the area must conform to the policies set out in the ASP.
An ASP, pursuant to the Province of Alberta Municipal Government Act, is a statutory planning policy document. An ASP contains policy statements that allows the Town of Canmore to review and evaluate specific development proposals against.
An ASP can be viewed as an intermediate step between the Town’s Municipal Development Plan, and future re-zoning and subsequent subdivision. An ASP contains a conceptual framework for future development. In contrast, the Land Use Bylaw contains land use districts which provide specific regulations detailing the maximum heights, front and rear setbacks for buildings, and the types of uses and building forms.
As a result of adopting an ASP, it may be necessary to amend the Land Use Bylaws rezoning in order to proceed with development of the subject lands in accordance with the ASP.
In 2013, the receiver had proposed an ASP for all Three Sisters lands, including those lands that currently have an existing ASP approved, but it was never approved by Canmore Council. Three Sisters Mountain Village was in receivership until December of 2013. The purpose of starting a process to create a new ASP for the Smith Creek area is to create certainty for the landowners, the community, and the Town for future development on the remaining Three Sisters lands. The preparation of the Smith Creek ASP does not necessarily mean that development of the land in question is imminent or immediate. An ASP is one of the many steps required before land can be developed.
The areas now known as Smith Creek – (TSMV sites 7, 8 and 9), in addition to Thunderstone Quarry Lands and possible other adjacent lands – are the focus of this ASP. This map shows the approximate planning area for the Smith Creek ASP; the boundary of the ASP will be finalized when the Terms of Reference are brought to Canmore Council for approval.
Canmore Council has already approved two other ASPs on the Three Sisters lands; the Resort Centre ASP (2004) and Stewart Creek ASP (2004). Our focus will be to work with the Canmore community and the Town of Canmore to identify the development direction and establish policy for the Smith Creek area. This includes resolving the location of the wildlife corridors for this area of Canmore. The work may lead to changes in the Resort Centre ASP and Stewart Creek ASP, but that is not known at this time.
There is no approved ASP for this area of land. In 2013, the receiver, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, proposed an ASP to Canmore Council but it was never approved. QuantumPlace Developments (QPD), acting on behalf of the owners of Three Sisters Mountain Village, is embarking on a process to create a new ASP in collaboration with the Town and the community. At this time, the only plan for the Smith Creek area is to hear input and work on an ASP together. An ASP is required for Sites 7, 8 and 9 under Town of Canmore Land Use Bylaw 1-98(DC), Section 3.9.
The Working Together guideline was created to outline a process whereby the Canmore community, the Town, and other key stakeholders can get involved early on to provide input into the development of an ASP. Landowner and community involvement is an integral part of the development of an ASP for Smith Creek.
All stakeholders will have a variety of ways to engage. We will hold workshops and open houses, have online engagement, and form a Community Advisory Group (CAG). The CAG will represent a cross section of interests in Canmore and will be used as a sounding board for input on all aspects of the ASP throughout the process, from community engagement, site planning, environmental and recreational considerations and policy development. Key stakeholders include, but are not limited to, area land owners, municipal planning staff, Provincial government departments, residents of Canmore, and environmental, recreational and builder interest groups.
During the early stages of the development of the Smith Creek ASP, the Smith Creek Project Team engaged with the community to gain input and feedback, as well as to identify concerns.
There are three primary sources of input that were used to develop a vision and policies for the Smith Creek area:
Early community input is important, since many of the concerns identified may be turned into features of the plan. The first step will be to understand community desires and vision for the Smith Creek lands. This input was fully reviewed and summarized in our Engagement Reports and was used to inform how we proceed with the next steps in the process. The Smith Creek Project Team will also attempt to address any questions or concerns expressed. While we cannot promise that we will address all stakeholder concerns to everyone’s satisfaction, we will certainly tell you why and how we arrived at our conclusions.
Engagement initiatives since June 2016 have focused on providing information on planning concepts to date to the community on how issues identified through earlier engagement sessions were resolved or mitigated, where and why we have not been able to resolve issues and concerns, and obtaining feedback.
An ASP is adopted by Council through readings of a bylaw. Canmore Council normally hears the First Reading of the bylaw, which consists of a presentation by Town Administration that supports their recommendation for or against. If Council votes to approve First Reading, a Public Hearing is required to be held prior to second reading or the bylaw. It is scheduled and advertised to hear from the applicant and those who wish to speak to the proposed bylaw. At the Public Hearing, those who wish to speak in favor or against the bylaw may do so verbally or through written submission. Once all participants have had the opportunity to speak, Council will close the public hearing and no further submissions will be received by Council. Following the public hearing, the bylaw will be brought back to Council to consider for second and third readings. If Council approves all three readings of the bylaw, then the ASP document is adopted. Council may request changes, further investigation, or make amendments at various points within the approval process.
What is the collaborative process?
In 2015, QuantumPlace Developments Ltd. (QPD) on behalf of Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) and the Town of Canmore initiated a collaborative approach to develop an ASP for the Smith Creek area.
The collaborative process provides an opportunity for TSMV, the Town, and the community to have input into a vision for the Smith Creek ASP Plan area. This innovative approach to planning in TSMV involved meaningful input from the Canmore community in the early stages of the planning process to allow the Project Team and the community to understand the social, environmental and financial opportunities and constraints of the Smith Creek ASP Plan Area. The collaborative process involved the formation of a representative Community Advisory Group (CAG) with whom the Town and QPD discussed the pros and cons of solutions to concerns and opportunities identified.
The intent of the collaborative process is to proactively work through the ASP process to allow both the Town of Canmore and TSMV to together
No, Council’s approval authority is unfettered by the Working Together guideline and collaborative ASP process. The process established for the Town, the community and TSMV to work together on an ASP doesn’t change the formal approval process. The ASP will still undergo a formal review process that will be completed by Town Administration. The ASP will be reviewed against approved Council policy like the Municipal Development Plan and other relevant Town documents as well as general planning principles.
There currently is no plan in place; the community, the Town and Three Sisters are starting from scratch to create a plan proactively together.
The Smith Creek ASP is a collaborative process, a forum through which the Town, QPD, stakeholders and the wider community work together to address specific issues, identify achievable solutions and ultimately, create a plan that addresses the needs of TSMV, the Town of Canmore and the community.
The Resort Centre ASP Amendments are an applicant-led initiative to make amendments to an existing approved ASP. Lessons and input from the Town, stakeholders and the community from the Smith Creek ASP process have been applied to the Resort Centre amendment process and have informed the overall amendment approach.
The Smith Creek Project Team anticipates submitting the Smith Creek ASP application to the Town in early fall. In order for an ASP to be approved by Council, it must pass through three distinct and separate readings and a public hearing must be held prior to the second reading. Timing of these public hearings are not yet determined.
No development will take place before the adoption of the Smith Creek ASP. The process of planning, community input, and open houses and revisions to the plan, is expected to take 8-12 months. If the ASP is approved, Three Sisters Mountain Village will then be required to submit further planning applications (rezoning and subdivision) that align with the ASP policy in order to develop any land parcel within the area.
The following principles guide the policy direction of the Smith Creek ASP and subsequent development to support the Town’s vision to be socially diverse, economically active and environmentally sound.
Smith Creek works to strengthen Canmore’s position as a highly desirable place to live, work and raise a family.
Smith Creek is an inclusive and interconnected community.
Smith Creek is economically viable and vibrant and adds to Canmore’s position as an authentic mountain experience.
Smith Creek is an example of a resilient development responsibly balancing the needs of both the built and natural environments.
Depending on the framework of the ASP, a range of development possibilities exist on a property as large and varied as sites 7, 8 and 9. A variety of forms of residential housing, commercial/light industrial and recreational amenities and facilities are part of the considerations. Some of these uses are already contemplated in The Town of Canmore Land Use Bylaw, 1-98(DC), Section 3.9.
While the exact number of units will be determined at a later stage of development, the ASP provides for a range of units that can be built in the Plan Area. The intention is to ensure developers have enough flexibility to respond to market demands while respecting the maximum number of permitted units outlined in the 1998 Settlement Agreement.
While the Smith Creek ASP proposes a range of between 1,200 – 1,700 units in Smith Creek, the Resort Centre ASP provides for a range of 1,600-3450 units.
The master zoning bylaw DC1-98 (resulting from the 1998 Settlement Agreement) provided for a total of 5,478 residential, resort accommodation and timeshare units across TSMV lands. Currently, there are 4,218 units remaining in TSMV.
There will be five different types of affordable housing contemplated in the ASP.
Yes, there will be a number of proposed commercial uses for the Smith Creek area. The proposed Smith Creek ASP envisions commercial and mixed-use development as well as office and industrial uses within the ASP area. These commercial areas will maintain a look and feel that is distinct from downtown while remaining consistent with Canmore’s mountain style.
The commercial, light industrial/office and mixed-use areas in Smith Creek will focus on:
The commercial development is intended to be compatible with existing business. Not only will commercial development in Smith Creek attract more people to live and visit Canmore, it will add strength and market viability to the existing commercial base for the Town. The development will benefit existing businesses as road and trail connections between Smith Creek and the Town will provide easy access to Main Street for Smith Creek residents and visitors.
The commercial, light industrial/office and mixed-use areas in Smith Creek will focus on:
These commercial areas will maintain a look and feel that is distinct from downtown and remain consistent with Canmore’s mountain style. There will be approximately 30 acres of industrial and commercial space in the Smith Creek area, with more space allotted in Stewart Creek and the Resort Centre.
The overall vision for recreation and open space identified within the ASP is the result of collaboration between QPD, the Town, the Community Advisory Group and the broader Canmore recreation community. Recreation and open space will be integrated throughout Smith Creek and will provide for a range of all-season activities including walking, hiking and mountain biking. As identified by the community and the CAG, bike and pedestrian users require different types of trails, and therefore, the Smith Creek ASP policy will ensure that multi-use, mountain bike, and pedestrian trails are possible and planned for. The development of trails will ensure a logical, connective flow and integrate with geographical features. Not only will these trails allow residents to maintain an active lifestyle, the trails will also provide residents with recreational options thereby reducing human use and off-leash dogs in the wildlife corridors.
In addition to a trail system, the Smith Creek ASP proposes a centralized, multi-use park area featuring an off-leash dog park, a terrain park, trail head, parking and washroom facilities. The recreation and open space allocated in the Smith Creek ASP serves to provide community members of all ages with space to gather, explore and play.
The Province has the sole authority to approve the size and location of a wildlife corridors within Three Sisters Mountain Village. Wildlife corridors are approved throughout Three Sisters with the last remaining being resolved with the Province parallel to the collaborative Smith Creek ASP process. The NRCB decision in 1992 granted approval to the development subject to the creation and establishment of functional wildlife movement corridors that are a minimum of 350 m in width. Currently the corridors proposed within the Smith Creek area are proposed to be over 600 m in width.
While the Smith Creek ASP scope did not include wildlife corridor functionality, a key requirement of any new development in the Smith Creek ASP area is agreement between the Province and TSMV on a wildlife corridor that completes the connection between the approved Along Valley Corridor and the Wind Valley Habitat Patch and Bow Flats Habitat Patch (via the G8 underpass).
The designation of wildlife corridors within the Smith Creek ASP application has been a dominant topic of conversation for the Project Team, Community Advisory Group and the general community. The goal has always been to identify a solution that balances the following four key areas:
The Project Team has taken the information discussed with the CAG and members of the community and have provided a potential corridor alignment to the Province for analysis. Approximately 71% of the TSMV land ownership within the Smith Creek area has been proposed to create a wildlife movement corridor. The Province is still analyzing potential corridor alignment.
Wildlife corridors are considered functional if:
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) identified a number of important wildlife mitigations that will inform the Smith Creek ASP. The proposed wildlife mitigations are comprehensive and must be viewed as a holistic or complete strategy in order to reduce negative human wildlife interactions within the Bow Valley. Four key strategies have been identified.
In 2002, Golder recommended that development areas adjacent to wildlife corridors should include as much open space as possible. The intention of the “soft edge” approach was to increase the “effective width” of the wildlife corridor by reducing the effects of sensory disturbance on wildlife travelling within corridors, thereby increasing the probability that the corridor would be used. This thinking is reflected in the Resort Centre ASP. However, since the approval of the Resort Centre ASP in 2004, wildlife science and local experience has shown that the soft edge approach actually compromises the ability of wildlife corridors to facilitate wildlife movement. In addition, soft edges do little to discourage humans from using the wildlife corridor.
Due to the prevalence of humans within the corridor and an increase in human conflict with animals like elk, grizzly bears, and cougars that frequently select for soft edges, the Smith Creek ASP’s wildlife biologists and experts from Alberta Fish and Wildlife, Parks Canada, and Alberta Environment and Parks now advocate a “hard edge” approach to corridor management.
Overall, a wildlife fence has been recommended as the most effective strategy for reducing human-wildlife interactions, provided the fence is implemented as one of several components of a broader wildlife mitigation strategy including attractant management.
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) examines opportunities to mitigate, reduce or eliminate the negative environmental impacts of development. Data informing the recommendations in the EIS pertain to wildlife habitation, human wildlife interactions and human use in the wildlife corridor.
Other recent studies are showing that wildlife in the Bow Valley are extremely adaptive and are selecting to be in developed areas. Between 1985 and 2011 2,807 carnivore conflicts were reported within conflict zones overlapping the study area; 353 of which occurred in zones adjacent to wildlife corridors. Ninety per cent of conflicts involved bears and, most occurred in residential areas. Places like Peaks of Grassi, the Homesteads, Rundleview, Cougar Creek, and Silvertip where housing developments occur adjacent to open spaces are conflict “hotspots”. Similar patterns were identified by an Alberta Environment and Parks analysis of conflict data from 2000-2014. In addition, data collected between 2009 and 2012 from remote cameras deployed in and around the Along Valley, Tipple and Stewart Creek wildlife corridors are showing a significant number of people and their dogs captured on camera. People and their dogs are more than twice as frequent as all other wildlife species combined.
The mitigation strategies proposed in the EIS are intended to ensure a comprehensive approach to reducing human-wildlife interactions and facilitating wildlife movement through the wildlife corridor.
Over the last three years there has not been a huge amount of new data related to corridor functionality and wildlife movement. In that sense, very little has changed. Provincial lands continue to provide substantial opportunities for wildlife movement. Changes in corridor design are a result of the CAG process and engagement with the community, not changes in available data about wildlife movement. However, there has been new data related to human use in the wildlife corridors. Cameras in the wildlife corridors are providing much more data about how many people are using wildlife corridors and how the wildlife corridors are being used by humans.
New wildlife movement data relates to wolves. This year a wolf pack was captured on cameras deployed in the Along Valley wildlife corridor on the south side of Canmore. This is something that has not happened previously and demonstrates that wolves in the Bow Valley are becoming increasingly habituated. Habituation is the root cause that resulted in two wolves of the Bow Valley Pack being removed from the ecosystem.
The wildlife fence will be built by TSMV at the time of development. The fence can be proposed to be maintained via a variety of mechanisms including an Owner’s Association and/or registering the fence as an easement on private title for land owners to maintain. Currently, Town Administration is investigating the pros and cons of taking on the ownership and maintenance of the fence and exploring potential community tax mechanisms. Decision on Town ownership and maintenance of the wildlife fence is ultimately subject to Council approval.
While intrusions are inevitable, they can be minimized through attractant management (i.e., keeping fruit bearing trees and shrubs and animals like elk out of the developed areas). In the event of intrusion, wildlife would be removed from the developed area using swing gates. Swing gates have been recommended by local wildlife experts as the preferred method to remove wildlife from developed areas as they cause less stress on the animal and are easier to use than jump-outs.
QPD will work with the project biologists and fencing experts to determine specific details on how to treat gates, jump-outs, roads and other natural and man-made features at future planning stages (i.e. land use and subdivision stages). These are similar issues that have been dealt with regularly when installing fencing along the Trans-Canada Highway and other highway fencing projects.
Wildlife fencing to help achieve separation between people and ungulates and carnivores has proven effective in jurisdictions such as Jackson, Wyoming (Dippel 2016, pers. comm.). In Jackson, unobtrusive wildlife fencing has helped to contribute to very low levels of human wildlife conflict along the Town and National Elk Refuge interface and was a mitigation put in place several decades ago (Figures 14 and 15). Without the wildlife fence, refuge staff feel there would be a significant increase in conflicts (Dippel 2016, pers. comm.). In a recent email to Y2Y, Alyson Courtemanch, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Dept. of Game and Fish living in Jackson, stated that ‘without the fence we could have thousands of elk on the highway or in downtown Jackson during the winter creating enormous human safety (and elk safety) issues”. Similarly, a recent global survey of human-bear conflicts conducted by Can et al. (2014, pg. 501) indicates that, within the toolbox of available mitigation, “the peer-reviewed literature indicates a heavy reliance on education and physical barriers for conflict mitigation”.
The proposed wildlife fence is very similar to the fence seen along the Trans-Canada Highway through Banff National Park and to the fence in Jackson Wyoming. There will be access points (i.e. gates) through the fence to access the designated Provincial trails in the wildlife corridors. Different strategies are proposed on roads and other possible points where wildlife may enter the developed areas. Swing gates and/or jumpouts will also be installed along the fence to facilitate the removal of wildlife from developed areas should there be intrusions. The ASP will identify broadly where the fence will generally be located. The details pertaining to specific location and other logistics surrounding the implementation will be determined at later phases of development.
The build out of Resort Centre and Smith Creek will take several decades to be completed and will be phased. As Resort Centre and Smith Creek are developed, the wildlife fence will be implemented with each phase and will maintain a full loop around the development at all times. This provides an opportunity for monitoring and adaptive management. There will be an opportunity to monitor how well the fence works to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions and adapt accordingly.
The build out of Resort Centre and Smith Creek will take several years if not decades to be completed and the development will be phased. As Resort Centre and Smith Creek are developed, the wildlife fence will be implemented with each phase and will maintain a full loop around the development at all times. This provides an opportunity for monitoring and adaptive management. There will be an opportunity to monitor how well the fence works to reduce negative human-wildlife interactions as well as to monitor how wildlife responds to the fence and adapt accordingly.
This decision would be up to the Town. Without a fence, the potential adverse impacts of development would be higher, which is why the fence is being recommended by Golder as a mitigation.
As with any development, the loss of habitat will be an impact of the development. The 1992 NRCB decision considered the loss of habitat in their decision to allow the Three Sisters development to move forward. While loss of habitat is always a concern, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) suggests mitigation strategies that are expected to result in a “net positive” impact for the ecosystem because the benefits of reducing negative human-wildlife interactions and restoring natural predator prey interactions (e.g., elk and wolves). The benefits of the comprehensive suite of mitigation strategies (below) are expected to outweigh the loss of the golf course as habitat.
The subject lands are home to a number of steep creeks and alluvial fans. Steep creek hazard and risk assessments will be completed for affected areas where development is contemplated. These assessments will inform decisions around location and type of development to ensure that the Town’s safety and sustainability criteria are met. Safety and sustainability criteria were developed through the Town’s Mountain Creek Hazard Mitigation Program. More information on the program can be found at canmore.ca.
Lands within Smith Creek were mostly strip (surface) mined and there are few documented underground works in this area. The strategy is to avoid development in these areas of Smith Creek.
The Province accepts the liability for undermining on private land provided that the property has undergone the necessary components of the regulatory process through the completion of an undermining report. Specifically, most engineering companies undertake a rigorous set of internal reviews by multiple experienced engineers on all reports and projects. This is a commonly accepted process for all engineering-related initiatives in Alberta. The Town’s engineers also review all engineering drawings and reports to make sure they make sense and meet Town standards (with the exception of undermining reports). Undermining reports specifically also go through a completely independent third-party review on behalf of the Province by an experienced undermining engineer.
The independent third party review is paid for by the developer, however the third party reviewer is not involved in the preparation of the project report or drilling investigation; they independently assess the work and engineering. The third party reviewer is tasked with reviewing undermining reports to ensure that the undermining process has been adhered to and that everything technically checks out. While the third party reviewer does not write the report, the process of reviewing the report can be iterative as the reviewer may ask the project’s undermining engineers to make revisions to the report. Overall, the third party reviewer can either accept or reject the report.
Once the report is complete, the first page is sealed by the project engineer. The second page is sealed by the third party reviewer and the third page is signed by the Province (this is a process check). If all of these steps are adhered to, the undermining report has all three pages above, and the development is built per the mitigations recommended in the report, the Province will cover any undermining related damage for anyone on title except the Town of Canmore.
The ASP will be billed to TSMV on a cost-recovery basis. TSMV is paying for everything, including all third-party reports.
Similar to any application made to the Town for an ASP, Council will consider all public feedback on the plan before making its decision. Council can approve the plan as submitted, request changes to the plan, or refuse the plan in its entirety. There is no right for the public to appeal an ASP unless there have been errors in the bylaw adoption process. However, community members will still have an opportunity to voice their opinions through the formal Public Hearing prior to Council making its decision. The intent of the collaborative ASP process is to engage the public throughout the entire preparation of the ASP to address concerns and to facilitate greater understanding between all parties.