Canmore's Peaks of Grassi rezoning OK'd pending judicial review

A contentious proposal to rezone an area in Canmore slated for further development has been given the green light on the condition that work is held off until a judge reviews the plan.

Area slated for new housing was set aside as protected land in 1992

Canmore Mayor John Borrowman favours the plan to expand development in the Peaks of Grassi area because it will include affordable housing. (CBC)

A contentious proposal to rezone an area in Canmore slated for further development has been given the green light on the condition that work is held off until a judge reviews the plan.

Developers want to build more housing in the Peaks of Grassi section of the Three Sisters Mountain Resort.

However, Mark Gruman, a lawyer who lives in the area, has petitioned the Court of Queen's Bench to review town council's decision to rezone the land, which had been set aside as an urban reserve.

The untouched land was one of three parcels that was protected in 1992 as part of an agreement between the town and the original developer in the area.

At a packed meeting on Tuesday night, the subdivision approving authority agreed to let the rezoning proceed, but only once that judicial review is complete.

Jim Pissot, director of WildCanada Conservation Alliance, says the housing should never have been built in the first place.

"We had a biologist here years ago who said the decision to build the homes at Peaks [of Grassi] was probably the worst decision ever made in the Bow Valley, because it is right up in the middle of wildlife movement areas on steep and wooded slopes," he said.

Canmore Mayor John Borrowman said the big turnout of people opposed to the project does not necessarily reflect the overall public sentiment.

"You don't typically get people coming to a public hearing saying everything is great. I have talked with a number of people in the community that weren't here," he said. 

The rezoning stipulates that 62 per cent of any development on the land will be either "perpetually affordable" or "market affordable" housing, something the town is drastically lacking. 

The court hearing isn't likely to happen until the fall.  

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