Alberta mountain town will try to appeal development order by provincial tribunal

·2 min read

CANMORE, Alta. — A popular Alberta mountain community will try to appeal a decision by a provincial tribunal ordering it to allow two major developments on its eastern edge that would almost double the town's population in the coming decades.

Town council rejected last year the proposed Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek projects in Canmore, west of Calgary. But the Land and Property Rights Tribunal of Alberta ruled in May that the two developments could go ahead.

Council voted Tuesday to direct its administration to apply for permission to challenge those decisions in the Alberta Court of Appeal.

"Council is not anti-development, but we need development that is aligned with what our community needs," said Mayor Sean Krausert.

A spokesman for Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties was not immediately available for comment.

The decisions by the tribunal found both developments met the parameters set out in a 1992 review on the Three Sisters area by the Natural Resources Conservation Board.

Krausert said the 1992 decision "recognized the interests of the local community and maintained the discretion of the municipality to decide how land in Canmore would be developed, neither of which was recognized in the (tribunal) decisions."

Three council members weren't allowed to vote because they are named in a civil lawsuit by the same developer, but the decision to pursue an appeal passed 4-0.

Coun. Tanya Foubert said it's a difficult situation, but there are questions of law and jurisdiction that need to be considered.

"The NRCB board itself, in its 1992 decision, expressed that it had no desire to see the interests of local residents and stakeholders thwarted by the sterilization of the effectiveness of the public process in local planning matters."

Coun. Jeff Mah, who was opposed to the developments before he joined council, said it was a major decision he spent a lot of time considering.

"The future we are looking for is a place where all our residents can thrive with sufficient affordable housing," he said. "These proposed (projects) do not provide enough for our community and, if anything, will exacerbate our livability challenges."

He said they also need to consider how it affects the environment and what residents want for their community.

Mah added that the 1992 decision was made a generation ago and the town is still struggling to find an equitable way forward.

"Our community needs development," he said. "We cannot live in a time capsule. However, the development that occurs must be the right kind."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary

The Canadian Press

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