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Canmore resident group asks government for environmental assessment of developments



A collective of Canmore residents, represented by Bow Valley Engage, is urging the Alberta government to adhere to its own laws by subjecting two significant projects in the mountainous town to an environmental assessment. The proposed Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek developments could potentially nearly double Canmore's current population, situated west of Calgary. Bow Valley Engage, operating as a not-for-profit society, asserts that these endeavors pose a threat to the last remaining wildlife corridor between Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park.


During a comprehensive six-day public hearing in 2021, these projects faced widespread opposition from the community and were subsequently rejected by Canmore's town council. However, despite this local resistance, a provincial tribunal granted approval for the developments to proceed. Canmore's town council contested this decision in the Court of Appeal of Alberta, but their efforts were unsuccessful.


Of particular concern to Bow Valley Engage is the potential ecological impact of these projects on the wildlife movement between Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park. The fear is that the proposed developments could compromise the last available area for wildlife to navigate this crucial corridor.


Remarkably, the group highlights that an environmental assessment was conducted over three decades ago, governed by regulations that are no longer in force. Bow Valley Engage is now urging the province to conduct a fresh assessment, aligning with the current Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The evolving legislative framework demands a more rigorous evaluation in light of environmental concerns, and the group insists that a new assessment is vital to comprehensively gauge the potential impact of these developments.


The clash between local opposition and provincial approval underscores the complex dynamics surrounding land use and development. The call for an updated environmental assessment is rooted in the desire to ensure that the decision-making process reflects the current environmental protection standards. Bow Valley Engage's plea resonates with the broader discourse on balancing development with ecological preservation, emphasizing the need for a thorough and contemporary evaluation of proposed projects. As the Alberta government faces this plea from Canmore residents, the outcome may significantly influence the town's landscape and its delicate ecological balance.


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