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Canmore council approves controversial rezoning of Peaks of Grassi urban reserve

Canmore town council approved a controversial plan to rezone land set aside as an urban reserve to make way for future development on Tuesday.

Affordable housing requirements big part of decision, but residents are angry with move

Canmore Mayor John Borrowman supported a controversial rezoning motion on Tuesday, saying it will bring more affordable housing to the town. (CBC)

Canmore town council approved a controversial plan to rezone land set aside as an urban reserve in order to make way for future development. 

The land in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood was one of three parcels that were protected 20 years ago as part of an agreement between the town, the Natural Resources Conservation Board and the original developer in the area. 

Residents are angry the reserve will be churned up. 

"We're all disappointed that council made the decision they did," said resident Tom Boone.

Although a similar proposal was brought forward last year and rejected, Mayor John Borrowman says it was approved this time because it includes calls more affordable housing. 

"Our number one priority is addressing housing issues and trying to find solutions for affordable housing. This presents, in my opinion, quite a good opportunity," he said. 

The rezoning calls for 62 per cent of any development to be either "perpetually affordable" or "market affordable."

'Moral obligation'

Coun. Ed Russell didn't support the move, saying he felt "a moral obligation" to stick to the agreement to protect the land.

He also had concerns with potential flooding and the limited impact of the affordable housing when compared to the disruption development would have. 

A group of residents tried to fight the change, and cited issues ranging from parking to environmental issues to the impact on "community character."

Boone, who says he plans to seek legal advice, argues the deal also allows developers to opt out of some of the affordable housing promises.

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