Three Sisters planning provokes worry in Canmore

Some Canmore residents have reservations about a new proposal to revive a stalled housing project in the mountain town.

Receivers preparing to transfer stalled development back to builders

Three Sisters project

10 years ago
Duration 2:36
Plans to revive the Three Sisters Mountain Village project in Canmore are stirring up concerns.

Some Canmore residents have reservations about a new proposal to revive a stalled housing project in the mountain town. 

Part of the Three Sisters Mountain Village has been in receivership since 2009, when the half-finished development was $115 million in debt.

Creditors are now working with the town to create a new area structure plan so that developers can re-boot the project.

"We’re at the very preliminary stages of reviewing new planning ideas for the Three Sisters area," said Gary Buxton, Canmore’s general manager of municipal infrastructure.

But as the new plan winds through the town's approval process, local resident Gary Anderson said he is worried about the effect the rekindled project might have on an important wildlife corridor.

"This is an issue that's a huge issue. It's really about protecting the future of this valley, you know, long after we're gone, even," Anderson said.

Local developer Stephen Ross, who is not involved in the project, said the town needs to get it all sorted out soon.

"Until it's done, I think the economy here is going to be fairly flat," he said.

Public meetings about the project have been heated as residents debate the impact on the wildlife corridor and on their own investment in the area.

Many biologists have argued that the wildlife corridor needs a wider buffer zone.

"Our community group, we're very in favour of development. It just needs to be done in these certain places that have been approved already," said Anderson.

Efforts are being made to increase the amount of green space adjacent to the planned housing, according to Paul Darby with Price Waterhouse Coopers, the receiver.

Ultimately, decisions about the corridor should be based on science, Ross said. "If they can modify the corridor to make the local residents a little bit happier … so much the better. But at the end of the day it’s got to be the scientists that make the decision," he said.

The town hopes to have a new area plan settled on by the summer. It will also need approval from Alberta  Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.