Town of Canmore

History of planning for Three Sisters Lands

Alberta Environment and Parks Approves Wildlife Corridor Proposal (2020)

As a condition of approval, the NRCB requires wildlife corridors to be identified and protected on Three Sisters Lands. The province, in particular Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), makes the decision on the wildlife corridor, and on March 3, 2020, a delegate from the Government of Alberta, Rick Blackwood, reviewed the process involved in their decision to approve the corridor. Next steps include a legal designation of the corridor, a land exchange to support the corridor, and monitoring of conditions.

 Three Sisters WIldlife Corridor Submission 2020
Three Sisters Smith Creek Corridor Provincial Decision 2020

Alberta Environment and Parks Rejects Wildlife Corridor Proposal (2018)
Three Sisters Mountain Village applied to Alberta Environment and Parks in January 2017 to get final approval for a wildlife corridor required for the company to move forward with more development to expand Canmore’s border to Dead Man’s Flats. The application was rejected on June 26, 20118. TSMV is submitting a revised application.
Resort Centre Area Structure Plan Amendment Submission (2017)
On May 2, 2017, a motion was defeated by Council for first reading of the proposed Resort Centre ASP amendment.
The applicant was proposing to amend the existing Resort Centre ASP to remove the 110 hectare golf course development and allow for the development of additional commercial, resort accommodation, recreation, and residential. Specifically, the proposal is for the potential addition of 15-20 hectares of commercial lands, and up to 475 additional resort accommodation or residential units. The inactive Resort Centre application can be viewed below:

pdf Resort Centre - ASP (36.96 MB)
pdf Resort Centre - ASP Amendment Rationale (1.10 MB)
pdf Resort Centre - Transportation Impact (4.51 MB)
pdf Resort Centre - Fiscal Impact (1.72 MB)
pdf Resort Centre - Stormwater Management (5.40 MB)
pdf Resort Centre - Environmental Impact Statement (99.13 MB)  

The Town engaged Fiera Biological to prepare a third party review report of the applicant’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). A copy of the third party review report is here:  pdf Resort Centre - Third Party Review (3.74 MB)
In response to the Town of Canmore Third Party Review, Golder provided this Addendum:  pdf Resort Centre - Golder Environmental Impact Statement Addendum (951 KB) (updated 4/28/2017)
As a result of the proposed ASP amendments, a concurrent amendment to Maps 2 and 5 of the MDP would have been required and considered concurrently with the application to amend the Resort Centre ASP. pdf Resort Centre MDP Map2 amendment (1.35 MB)
pdf Resort Centre MDP Map 5 amendment (443 KB) Links / Documents pdf Resort Centre - EIS Terms of Reference (383 KB)
Smith Creek ASP (2020 & Previous)

The Smith Creek Area Structure Plan (ASP) proposal includes a mix of residential housing types including entry-level housing, and a variety of commercial development ranging from retail, office and industrial. It will also include large areas of open space for recreation, and a trail system. The proposal will add between 1,200 – 1,700 units of low and medium density residential, which could add up 4,000 new residents to Canmore at build out.

The Three Sisters Smith Creek ASP application has not been withdrawn, it was delayed until a corridor decision was made by the province. The application will be revised based on the boundaries delineated by the province on the wildlife corridor. Further details on the timeline for new dates for consideration of the Smith Creek ASP will be updated on this page.

The previous application is available for viewing below: 

pdf Smith Creek ASP EIS Terms of Reference Sept 10, 2018 (3.23 MB)  
pdf Smith Creek - Area Structure Plan (129.47 MB)
pdf Smith Creek - Application Rationale (653 KB)
pdf Smith Creek - Fiscal Impact (1.58 MB)
pdf Smith Creek - Transportation Impact (3.51 MB)
pdf Smith Creek - Stormwater Management (4.12 MB)
pdf Smith Creek - Environmental Impact Statement (138.77 MB)  

2017 - Background
Smith Creek is at the eastern edge of Three Sisters Lands, located to the south of Deadman’s Flats. The owners of the Smith Creek lands, and the Town of Canmore and a community advisory group have been working together in a collaborative process for the future planning and development of these lands by preparing an Area Structure Plan. These lands are currently undeveloped except for the Thunderstone Quarry, an active rundle rock quarry operation, and other previous coal mining activities.

The Smith Creek lands are also commonly referred to as Sites 7, 8 and 9. The future development of these lands is guided by the planning that was undertaken through the Master Zoning Bylaw DC1-98. To view the relevant information on Sites 7, 8 and 9 in the DC 1-98 Bylaw click here. The 1992 National Resource Conservation Board (NRCB) Decision #9103 for a Tourism and Recreation Development is another consideration for future planning for these lands. To view the NRCB Decision,  pdf click here (17.73 MB) .

In a more traditional ASP process in the Town of Canmore, an applicant prepares and submits the ASP on their own, with the Town providing feedback once the plan is prepared. In the Smith Creek collaborative ASP process, the Town, TSMV and a community advisory group worked together to create an ASP that attempted to address the needs and goals of all parties involved. This process was designed to provide greater understanding to the Town and the community about the final application that is submitted for Council consideration for approval.

pdf Smith Creek - Working Together Guidelines (369 KB)

Area Structure Plan Submission (2013)
In 2013 the Town of Canmore received an application for the Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) lands from the former court appointed receiver Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC). The application was withdrawn and first reading of the ASP bylaw was canceled at the request of PwC. Former owners purchase the property back. The information below includes resources related to the withdrawn 2013 application and history on three sisters lands planning. 

The formal application submitted by PwC can be found below:

pdf Area Structure Plan submission (13.36 MB)  (also incorporates Documents 10,11 & 12)
pdf Supporting Document 1 - Site Analysis (826 KB)
pdf Supporting Document 2 - Golder Environmental Impact Statement (36.55 MB)
pdf Supporting Document 5 - Fiscal Impact Analysis (1.45 MB)
pdf Supporting Document 6 - Alternative Development Guidelines (284 KB)
pdf Supporting Document 7 - ASP Comparison Table (73 KB)
pdf Supporting Document 8 - Disposition of Applicable Policies 2004 (141 KB)
pdf Supporting Document 10 - Wildlife Monitoring Program (2.20 MB)
pdf Supporting Document 11 - Adaptive Management (122 KB)
pdf Supporting Document 12 - Wildlife Exclosure Fence and Associated Mitigation  (122 KB)

Supporting Documents 3, 4 and 9 are Engineering studies. 
Three Sisters Mountain Village Declares Bankruptcy (2009)

Citing a “sharp downturn in the demand for recreational properties tied to the economic crisis,” current ownership declares bankruptcy. At the time, only 15 of 18 holes of the second golf course were completed. Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) was appointed Receiver with significant debt owed to HSBC and others.

East West Partners purchase Three Sisters Mountain Village (2007)
Morgan Stanley Real Estate fund purchased TSMV lands with backing and financing from HSBC, and hires East West Partners to operate the development company. 
Resort Centre and Stewart Creek Area Structure Plans (2004)
In 2004, the Town approved the pdf Resort Centre Area Structure Plan (6.95 MB)  and the  pdf Stewart Creek Area Structure Plan (30.23 MB) . The only development within the Resort Centre area is a partially completed golf course straddling Three Sisters Creek. Several multi-family condominium projects and a golf course clubhouse have been constructed within the Stewart Creek ASP area since 2004.

The Town initiated several wildlife-related reports during previous planning on Three Sisters lands. These include the  pdf 2002 Golder Report (6.62 MB)  in the Resort Centre area that resulted in a significant re-alignment of corridors and the 2006 Komex Review of an environmental impact statement for the Three Sisters Creek golf course. A provincially-led study, the  pdf 2002 Wind Valley Corridor study (3.99 MB) , is relevant to the area under review.

A wildlife underpass along with 3-kilometres of fencing, built with G8 Legacy Funds and administered by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, was built at the mouth of the Wind Valley east of Dead Man’s Flats to allow wildlife to safely cross under the Trans-Canada Highway.
Settlement Agreement and the Master Zoning Bylaw (1998)
In 1998 Town Council also approved the Master Zoning Bylaw which is now Section 4.9 of Land Use Bylaw. A substantial portion of this Bylaw, particularly in the easterly portion of the TSMV lands, still represents current zoning in the area. Council also entered into the pdf Settlement Agreement (902 KB) with the owners of the Three Sisters lands.

Note that the Settlement Agreement was not transferred over to Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd. when the lands were purchased out of receivership in 2013, and is no longer relevant.
NRCB (1992)
Following extensive public hearings, the NRCB ruled that the Three Sisters Golf Resorts Inc. proposal was in the public interest and could develop its property in the Bow Valley, but not in the critical wildlife habitat of the Wind Valley. The decision came with several conditions, including the designation of wildlife movement corridors that must get approval from the Provincial Government. The project required a review of an environmental impact assessment by the provincial Natural Resources Conservation Board before the Town could consider any municipal approvals.
Three Sisters Golf Resorts Inc. acquires Three Sisters Mountain Village (1989)
Three Sisters Golf Resort purchases lands after it was placed in receivership. The group proposed a tourism and recreation project in the Bow Valley and Wind Valley that would include residential, accommodation and commercial space— including retail, convention, restaurants, hotels and other attractions. The large-scale nature of the project required approval from the Alberta Government appointed Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB). 
Government of Alberta History of Three Sisters Lands
The following link is from the Government of Alberta's website and speaks to some of the history of the Three Sisters Lands. To view the information click here.

The Town of Canmore is located within Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge the Canmore area, known as “Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi” (translated in Stoney Nakoda as “shooting at the willows”) and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Îyârhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda) – comprised of the Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, and Goodstoney First Nation – as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. We acknowledge all Nations who live, work, and play and help us steward this land and honour and celebrate this territory. We commit to working to live in right relations and to advance Truth and Reconciliation.

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