Plan to expand Canmore's Peaks of Grassi development prompts court action

A controversial decision to allow expanded development in a Canmore neighbourhood is likely headed to the courts.

Mark Gruman seeking judicial review of town council's rezoning decision

The trees on the left would be removed if a planned expansion of the Peaks of Grassi section of the Three Sisters Mountain Resort goes ahead. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

A controversial decision to allow expanded development in a Canmore neighbourhood is likely headed to the courts.

Mark Gruman, a lawyer who lives in the Peaks of Grassi section of the Three Sisters Mountain Resort has petitioned the Court of Queen's Bench to review council's decision to rezone the land, which had been set aside as an urban reserve.

"I think the town handled the matter properly a year ago when they unanimously rejected the application. It's hard to understand how less than a year later they approve it, when nothing significantly changed," he said.

Gruman says the proposed development would mean the loss of many trees and would lead to parking and traffic problems.

The untouched land in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood 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.

"To allow building in this regard will completely change the character of our neighbourhood," he said.

Canmore Mayor John Borrowman says he does not regret approving the rezoning, partly because rezoning calls for 62 per cent of any development to be either "perpetually affordable" or "market affordable" — something the town desperately needs.

"The municipality on its own can't afford to build perpetually affordable housing units to meet our need," he said.

But according to Gruman, there are other places in Canmore that are far more suitable to this type of development.

Area resident Tom Boone is unhappy that the town is allowing development of what he thought was a protected area along his street.

"Twelve years or 15 years after that original agreement, these developers have come back and worked with council and found a way to develop more land in the area," he said.

The town's subdivision approval authority is expected to approve the development with conditions on Tuesday.

The judicial review might not be heard until the fall.

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