History of Planning for Three Sisters Lands

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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 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.

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:


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: Resort Centre - Third Party Review

In response to the Town of Canmore Third Party Review, Golder provided this Addendum: Resort Centre - Golder Environmental Impact Statement Addendum (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. Resort Centre MDP Map2 amendment
Resort Centre MDP Map 5 amendment


Links / Documents Resort Centre - EIS Terms of Reference

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: 

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, click here .


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.


Smith Creek - Working Together Guidelines

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:


Supporting Documents 3, 4 and 9 are Engineering studies. 

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.

Morgan Stanley Real Estate fund purchased TSMV lands with backing and financing from HSBC, and hires East West Partners to operate the development company. 

In 2004, the Town approved the Resort Centre Area Structure Plan and the Stewart Creek Area Structure Plan. 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 2002 Golder Report  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 2002 Wind Valley Corridor study, 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.

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 Settlement Agreement 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.

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 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). 

The following link is from the Government of Alberta's website and speaks to some of the history of the Three Sisters Lands.