Staircase Lands Redesignation
Staircase Lands are located along Three Sisters Drive, between Peaks Drive and the access road to Quarry Lake.
After a public hearing on Feb. 28, 2023, and considering other options, Council approved amendment 2022-07 to redesignate the Staircase Lands for Future Development (discretionary use under Future Development include: accessory building, agriculture, outdoor athletic and recreational facility, campground, open space, public building). This is to comply with the Alberta Court of Kings Bench order for the Town of Canmore to commence proceedings to either acquire the upper triangle of the Staircase Lands Council or redesignate it. The Staircase Lands are a smaller parcel of land privately owned by Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd. (TSMVPL), located along Three Sisters Drive, between Peaks Drive and the access road to Quarry Lake. The order applies to the upper portion closest to the Quarry Lake access road currently zoned Natural Park District (the lower two parcels are already designated Future Development). TSMVPL has declined the Town of Canmore’s offer to purchase the upper triangle of the Staircase Lands for the purpose of implementing the above court decision. A record of written public submissions can be found at https://canmore.ca/documents/5458-2023-02-28-recordsofsubmissionsbylaw2022-27 Details can be found in the agenda package here: https://canmore.ca/documents/5453-2023-02-28-council-agenda-special
The decision of the Court of Kings Bench (formerly the Court of Queens Bench) in Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd v. Canmore (Town) [2022 ABQB 511, Court file: 2101 07730 ] was based on Section 644 of the MGA which concerns the acquisition of land designated for public use. Administration reported to Council on the Court’s reasons for decision on Aug. 16, 2022. Council made a unanimous resolution directing administration to:
- acquire the upper portion of the Staircase Lands to satisfy the decision of the Court of Queen’s Bench; and
- report on detailed options for implementing this decision [Resolution 200-2022].
Through litigation counsel, administration made an offer to acquire the lands. The Town of Canmore obtained an appraisal of the Staircase Lands in April of 2022. The appraisal summarized the value of the lands as:
- $63,750 at $7,500/acre for the upper triangle of 8.5 acres designated as Natural Park District;
- $153,250 at $12,500/acre for the lower portion of 12.26 acres designated as Future Development; and
- $217,000 at $10,453/acre for the entire parcel of 20,76 acres.
On Sept. 9, 2022, the Town through its litigation counsel offered to purchase the upper triangle of the Staircase Lands for a proposed market value of $63,750 based on a parcel of 8.5 acres at a price of $7,500 per acre, legal costs payable by the Town in the court action (which were later established at $3,973.83), and $2,500 in legal and other costs for TSMV to subdivide the parcel for sale to the Town.
On Oct. 14, 2022, TSMVPL through its litigation counsel responded that it did not want to sell the lands and that expropriation is required to acquire the lands without the consent of the landowner.
In mid-October of 2022, the Court issued its finalized Order which requires the Town to commence proceedings to acquire the land or to rezone the land to Future Development District. Administration returned to Council on Nov. 1, 2022, seeking a resolution to commence expropriation, or redesignate the lands to Future Development District. Council made a unanimous resolution directing administration to:
- bring a Land Use Bylaw amendment application to redesignate the upper triangle of the Staircase Lands to Future Development District and that the first reading of the bylaw amendment occur no later than Nov. 29, 2022, and that the public hearing on the bylaw amendment, if required, occur no later than March of 2023. [Resolution 270-2022].