A contentious plan to extend the Hamlet of Dead Man's Flats near Canmore is closer to reality, but is raising concerns among wildlife advocates.

The Municipal District of Bighorn is looking to build a light industrial development for the community of roughly 120 people near a wildlife corridor in the area.

Karsten Heuer with the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative says the corridor been used more than 6,000 times by everything from grizzly bears to wolves to bighorn sheep since it was constructed for $1.8 million in 2004. 

The M.D. owns the land, which is roughly 29 hectares.

"The area already has an area structure plan on it," said Reeve Dene Cooper. "It could be used for recreational purposes or estate homes. We think that light industrial is more compatible with the wildlife corridor."

Land swap denied in the past

But according to Heuer, developing near the underpass will deter wildlife from using it.

"They already are going through a huge maze," he said. "For them to get to Banff National Park to here is about 15 kilometres of going through a maze of existing developments and, you know , hydro reservoirs — you name it."

Cooper says the M.D. has tried to negotiate a land swap with the province in recent years, but has repeatedly been denied and the municipality "needs" this development.

"We lost the Burnt Timber Gas Plant," he said. "Six per cent of the taxation was lost. Over time we've got to take the land we lost and ... we have to be able to develop it to replace what we're losing."

Cooper says his staff is still talking to the province in hopes Alberta's new NDP government will work with them. The M.D. has up to two years to pass the bylaw and decide what to do with the land.