More protests held over two controversial Canmore developments

CALGARY — Canmore residents are continuing their protests against two proposed developments in their town. 

A “peaceful blockade” was held Saturday in front of one of the corridors leading to the land in question. 

“My conscious basically demands that I come out here and do something,” blockade organized James Louden said. “We still have a choice: nature versus development.”

Town council is currently mulling over the future of Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek developments, communities put forward by Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) and Quantum Place Developments. 

They’ve been controversial since they were first proposed years ago. 

Opponents argue the builds would restrict wildlife movement through the busy Bow Valley and create “dark communities,” mainly consisting of vacation homes.

A couple dozen of those opponents voiced their concerns in front of a Three Sisters Parkway blockade Saturday. 

“It’s heartbreaking to think about all this being bulldozed,” Louden said. “The animals that live in Banff National Park have to get through here. This is a migratory route.”

Last year, the province approved the developer’s proposed designated wildlife corridor. Critics say it’s too narrow and relies on slopes too steep for regular use.

Tiffany Meyer says it’ll mean less movement and mating for local species. 

She’s not alone. 

“We’ve had over 200 speakers at the public hearing and 96 per cent of them are opposed to the development,” Meyer told CTV News. “Council needs to notice.”

Town leaders have been hearing public feedback on TSMV’s vision for months. A gathering in front of the Civic Centre earlier in March even drew opponents from outside of the area. 

Some residents also believe the developments pose a financial risk because of underlying abandoned coal mines.

The mines have previously led to slumping and sinkholes in the community. Dozens say they fear the town will be left paying for the cost of future collapses.

A previous version of the plan was shot down in 2017, but TSMV believes a partial redesign has solved many of the issues. The developer says they’ve drilled more than 500 bore holes to help map and evaluate the risk. 

TSMV says, if approved, the project will create 2,300 jobs during construction and pay $95 million in annual wages.

“We’ve been very careful to listen for five years to collect these two plans together and make them happen,” Chris Ollenberger said. 

But at Saturday’s blockade, those redesigns still weren’t satisfactory. 

A Stoney Nakoda elder says his nation was not consulted. 

“(The land is) beautiful and clean,” Terry Rider said. “It’s for the kids who have yet to be born to enjoy this part of the mountains.”

The town is reviewing all the community feedback it received earlier this month, and even more consultations are expected. 

Council doesn’t have a confirmed date for when it will move to a formal review. 

If approved, the build itself is a long one: it could take up to 30 years for an expected maximum of 14,500 residents to move in. 

While residents wait for word from the town, the blockade group says they’ll be along Three Sister Parkway every second Saturday for the foreseeable future to protest. 

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