Town of Canmore

Three Sisters Mountain Village Area Structure Plan Applications

Next Steps - Updated May 11, 2021

  1. Third reading of Bylaw 2021-05 Three Sisters Village Area Structure Plan is required before the bylaw is passed and is scheduled for Tuesday, May 25. 

Submitted Area Structure Plans and Supporting Documents

Area Structure Plans

Supporting reports covering all future development within Three Sisters Mountain Village:

Reports specific to the Three Sisters Village/Smith Creek ASP: 

Steep Creek Studies for Three Sisters Village: 

Steep Creek Studies for Smith Creek:

Frequently Asked Questions

Process

Why isn’t Council holding a second public hearing? Don’t they have to?
No, council is not required to hold a second public hearing. Council heard significant community feedback over multiple days of public hearings and put forward amendments it believes are necessary to respond to that feedback. Further, Section 230(5) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) directs that a Council may consider any matter that it feels is appropriate after the public hearing without the obligation to hold a second hearing. 
Why isn’t Council hearing from Administration about what was heard at the public hearing?
At this point in the process, administration’s role is to support council with information related to process, procedure and policy related matters should council request it. It is not administration’s role to interpret the feedback heard from the public. However, administration has supported individual councillors with their proposed amendments as they prepared for 2nd and 3rd reading of the Bylaws. 
What is Administration’s role at this point in the process?
Administrations role was to evaluate the ASP proposals and how they fit in with Town of Canmore guiding documents prior to bringing them forward to council for First Reading. After council gave them First Reading, they became council’s documents. 

Administration’s current role includes: 
- Answering questions and providing guidance on policy related matters pertaining to the ASPs
- Ensuring due process is followed
- Following any further direction provided from council 
Who is meeting with the applicant after Council’s motion to postpone?
Administration will be meeting with the applicant. 
How can Council or Administration hear more from or discuss amendments with the Applicant, but not with the rest of the community?
It is council’s decision to determine who they meet with to get the information they need to make an informed decision. Council has clearly stated the goals they are looking to achieve with the amendments, which include:

- To achieve phasing that has commercial development complete prior to the majority of the residential development.
- To ensure that the Village ASP meets the MDP requirement of being a primary commercial development with a significant commercial tax base.
- To reduce the Three Sisters Village residential unit and density projections by approximately 1/3 (of the original proposal).
- To achieve a minimum of 20% of all residential units being provided as affordable housing units.

Council has determined that it will be helpful for them to hear how the amendments made to date may impact the deliverability of the ASP from the applicant’s perspective. TSMVPL and their consultants have spent several years preparing the ASP’s and associated technical reports and are most intimately familiar with the project plans.  
Is Council required to consider these Area Structure Plan Applications?
Yes. Town Administration has a duty to process applications that are submitted for review and decision, which means that Council has a duty to consider these applications, as Council is the decision maker on any statutory plan application. The duty for Council to consider these applications arises under the common law duty of fair process and not under an explicit clause within the MGA.
Where can I watch a video of First Reading?
You can view a replay of the February 9 Council meeting here.
What is the phasing/timing of these developments?
These developments will grow with Canmore over the next 20 to 30 years. Phasing and sequencing will be tied to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and its Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan. Phasing will also consider municipal infrastructure, public services, amenities, and more. 
Are all supporting technical studies completed? 
Yes. All supporting technical studies are complete and have been submitted to the Town. All of the studies are available at the top of this page.
Does the 1992 NRCB decision include what has been built already in Three Sisters lands? 
The NRCB decision applies to all of TSMV lands, including what has already been built, from Peaks of Grassi to Stewart Creek, but excluding Thunderstone Quarry lands. 
The TSMV development area is located outside the growth area boundary and partially in a land use designated "conservation area". How does the process for approving this work? 
An amendment to the growth boundary would be required if Council were to approve the ASP’s as currently proposed. This would be a separate process that would be initiated after the ASP’s received Council approval. A growth boundary amendment would require an amendment to the Town’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP). 

To allow for the type of development proposed in the ASP’s on the lands that would be the subject of a growth boundary amendment, a land use bylaw amendment would also be required to redistrict the lands from CW (Conservation of Wildlands District) to another land use district.  

If the ASP’s are approved as proposed, it is anticipated that both the MDP and Land Use Bylaw amendments would come forward concurrently, immediately following ASP approval.
Why is the Smith Creek ASP up for consideration before considering moving the urban growth boundary?
The applicant is proposing development within Smith Creek proceeding on the assumption of an expanded growth boundary. However, the decision to alter or maintain the location of the growth boundary is solely Council’s decision. Should Council choose to approve the Smith Creek ASP with a growth boundary change (either the one proposed by the applicant or one devised by Council), this would trigger the subsequent MDP amendment process as well.

The ASP process occurs first because it is not guaranteed that the ASPs will be approved by Council. As well, if the ASPs are approved by Council, it is not guaranteed that they will be approved as submitted by the applicant.  Council has the ability to make amending motions to the documents, in response to feedback received during the public hearing process.  Therefore, the MDP process follows the ASP process, so that there is a clear picture and understanding of what needs to be amended based on what Council has approved. To amend the growth boundary prior to a decision on the ASPs would be premature.

Moving the growth boundary, although tied to the Smith Creek ASP proposal, would undertake its own separate MDP amendment process with Council. The four conditions outlined in the MDP (s.2.1.5) are subjective, therefore Council has some latitude to determine if/how the four conditions have been sufficiently met.
Can Council change the phasing of the ASPs? For example, can Council require commercial be built prior to more residential?
Yes, it is within the purview of Council to make changes to the phasing of development. However, it is important to note that changes to phasing may have impacts on the entire development. 
What kind of engagement will the Town of Canmore do on the ASPs?
As these ASPs are external applications, it is the responsibility of the applicant to look for feedback from the public on their submissions. Council provided First Reading for these applications on February 9, which requires them to provide an opportunity for the public to provide comment on the applications at a Public Hearing. The Public Hearing is scheduled for March 9 (and 10 if necessary). 
Can the unfinished Golf Course stay and be finished instead?
The 2004 ASP contemplates a golf course on those lands, however, whether or not the golf course would be completed is at the discretion of the landowner.
Do the applications align fully with Town planning documents, such as the Municipal Development Plan?
While many of the elements of these plans are aligned with the high-level goals of Town planning and policy documents, some do not. Please reference the request for decision reports, as well as administration’s presentation from First Reading on February 9, which can be found here.
If approved, would building out each of these developments automatically add an additional 14,500 people to the Town’s population?
The buildout schedule for the Village and Smith Creek is over a 20-30-year period, so there will not be a sudden spike in population but a gradual increase overtime. While there is a possibility that these developments could increase the population by 14,500 people, in order to get to this number, all construction would need to maximize their unit density, by means of the density bonusing toolkit provided for in the area structure plans.
What legislation (if any) requires the Town to approve any further development in the ASP areas? 
Section 619 of the Municipal Government Act stipulates that the Town must approve an application that is consistent with a license, permit, approval or other authorization granted by the NRCB, to the extent that the application complies with the decision rendered by the NRCB.

The 1992 NRCB decision provided approval in concept for development upon Three Sisters lands, but made clear that detailed planning would be required to go through the municipal approval process. Therefore, Council has the ability to influence the scale and scope of development on these lands through the applicable municipal review processes.
What is the minimum development amount that the Town is required to approve?
It is within the power of Council to propose amendments to the plans before them. However, because many of the elements within these plans are interdependent (e.g. the proposed density helps drive the ability for these developments to meet the Town’s Integrated Transportation Plan), a reduction of scale and scope of the development will require tradeoffs. The thresholds of these tradeoffs are unforeseen to the Town.
Could the 1992 NRCB decision be overturned?
Changes to the 1992 NRCB decision could only be pursued by means of a legal challenge through the courts.
How is the community benefit of these developments being measured?
Determining how ‘good’ a development is, is largely a subjective exercise. Town Administration’s role is to examine how the proposed development aligns with and/or advances the achievement of Council approved policies. The Town’s Municipal Development Plan is a key planning document that was developed through a comprehensive public participation process that identifies what the community envisions for the future. Alignment with the MDP was a key consideration for the applicant in the development of their proposals and is a key evaluative measure for Administration and Council in the review of the proposals. 
What are being used for the metrics to determine whether these developments would be ‘good’ for community?
‘Good’ development is largely subjective. However, our Municipal Development Plan is a strong place to start to understand what the community would like to see in terms of future development. This planning policy document was produced with comprehensive public participation.
Could you provide a comparative analysis of the numbers from the NRCB to what is being proposed in these two ASPs?
Any such comparison would be open to interpretation, and relies on a wide range of assumptions that could be challenged. 

The NRCB decision removed the Wind Valley from the development and did not stipulate how much of, and where, the various land uses (commercial square footage and number of residential units, for example), could go. Additionally, not all of the area contained in the ASPs – including Thunderstone Quarry - was subject to the NRCB decision. Lack of clear, commonly accepted definitions of the various uses included in the NRCB decisions further complicates efforts to provide such an analysis.

The long history of workshops, proposals, agreements, etc. between the landowners, Town and Province were meant in part to sort this out and provide more detail for implementation. However, these efforts were really negotiated agreements with the landowners at the time. As a result of this, and as a result of changing circumstances and strategic objectives from the Town over the past 30 years, it has been determined that such a comparative analysis would have little value and will not be produced.
Has Administration received any legal advice on challenging the 1992 NRCB to stop any more development from happening?  
Considering how the Town originally annexed these lands from the MD of Bighorn for the purpose of development, the “no development” alternative is not an alternative currently being considered by Council. Understanding this and that the land owner has rights to pursue development, Council is considering what type of development is best for these lands and the future of Canmore.
Why would the Town consider replacing 1-98DC with Bylaw 2021-05 and 2021-06, when the direct control bylaw offers a reasonable level of certainty of use consistent with the NRCB decision?
The portion of the 1-98DC District that addresses the Smith Creek lands, is a placeholder and provides minimal direction until an ASP is approved. Accordingly, an ASP is needed for these areas in order to provide necessary direction on the future development of these lands.

Although it is occasionally amended, the 1-98DC District was written over 20 years ago and was responding to the vision for development at that time. There are some elements of the proposed ASPs that could be seen as being more in line with the Town's current vision as outlined in the Municipal Development Plan.

Undermining

Regarding undermining, who is responsible for damages which could occur to private property or municipal property?
The recently updated Canmore Undermining Review Regulation (AR 34/2020) was approved by Cabinet earlier this year, replacing the original 1997 regulation. A set of accompanying guidelines titled “2020 Guidelines to Evaluate Proposed Development Over Designated Undermined Lands in the Town of Canmore, Alberta” were further approved by Ministerial Order on March 31, 2020. These revised regulations and guidelines were drafted through approximately two years of work by the Government of Alberta, with input from the Town of Canmore, TSMV, geotechnical experts from Golder and Associates and Canmore resident Gerry Stephenson. The guidelines in particular are designed to ensure risks of building on undermined lands are “as low as reasonably possible,” in a manner very similar to the guidelines that have been established for development in steep creek flood hazard zones. 

In the event that damage occurs to private property that has been developed under these guidelines, property owners will hold the liability for such risks on their property. This has been the case in other subdivisions that have been developed on the old Canmore Mines lands, such as Rundleview, the Homesteads, the Peaks of Grassi, and in the Stewart Creek area. Undermining reports that describe this risk are registered on land title, so that property owners are aware of their liability. 

In regards to risks to the municipality, the Town of Canmore is liable for any damage to municipally-owned infrastructure such as roadways, bridges, and underground lines – as is the case in all areas of town. However, the 1999 Indemnity Agreement with the province assures that the Government of Alberta will assume liability for any third-party claims made against the municipality for damages resulting from undermining issues.

For more information on undermining click here.
Three Sisters Mountain Village is proposing they mitigate undermined lands by 'pasting' old mine shafts with concrete. How does this align with the Town’s Climate Action Plan?
The carbon footprint of this mitigation technique is unknown. Based on the information available to the Town, the “paste” primarily utilizes fly ash in the mix. By comparison to traditional concrete, which uses cement as its primary ingredient, this material has a lesser carbon footprint. Undermining mitigations are regulated by the Province.

Environment/Wildlife

How will human use be discouraged in the wildlife corridor?
Wildlife fencing is proposed to be used to limit conflict between humans and wildlife by providing only a handful of gates along its perimeter to access Provincial parkland. Fencing along the edge of the corridor marks it as a special place reserved primarily for wildlife. While people will still be able to access Provincially approved trails, signs will educate on the specific behaviours that are required to be followed in the corridor.

The proposal also offers recreational opportunities provided within the developments as a means to help alleviate human use pressure on the corridors and provide an alternative to recreating within areas designed for wildlife movement. Recreational amenities, such as off-leash dog parks, mountain bike trails, and more, are intended to provide a positive alternative to inappropriate human use in the wildlife corridor.
Who pays for the maintenance of the fence and how much will it cost?
Until the fence is turned over to the Town as an asset, all costs would be borne by the developer. If and when the Town accepts the fence, maintenance will be covered through municipal taxes. Because the fence is not yet designed, costs associated with the fence are still unknown. 
Does the municipality have any authority to augment the wildlife corridors?
No, those are the jurisdiction of the province.
Even though the Government of Alberta has stated the Smith Creek corridor is functional and no additional buffers are required, can additional buffers still be added by council?
Council does not have the power to require additional buffers, but could pursue acquiring lands with compensation to the landowner.
What is being done to mitigate wildfire risk?
As part of the application, the applicant was required to produce a wildfire risk assessment. Mitigations would be implemented at time of subdivision and/or in advance of development.
Could the Smith Creek development, if approved, advance prior to the completion of the new proposed cross-valley wildlife underpass?
No. There is policy within the ASP that would ensure the underpass would need to be completed first.
Would it be possible for these developments to reduce the Town’s greenhouse gas footprint and meet our Climate Action Plan goals?
It is theoretically possible for buildings within Three Sisters Village to be near net-zero, but that could only take place if all future developers maximized density and maxed out the bonusing toolkit for the net-zero bonus. The impacts from transportation and waste would still, however, add to the Town’s collective footprint. 

Due to the proposed development in Smith Creek being 60-75% low-density units (which would not be available for density bonusing), this area could not reach a near net-zero condition for buildings and would also increase impacts from transportation and waste. 
If the Thuderstone Quarry lands are to be developed, would the BCEAG Wildlife Corridor and Habitat Patch Guidelines for the Bow Valley apply to them?
Because these lands are outside the original BRCB decision, yes, they would apply.

Financial

What impact will this development have on taxes?
TSMV’s development is planned to meet Canmore’s future commercial market supply and demand, based on modelling and a Commercial Market Needs Assessment done by Altus Group and informed by Town of Canmore policy direction. 

According to a Municipal Fiscal Impact assessment, this project represents an opportunity for the Town to grow in a fiscally sustainable manner. It provides an opportunity to increase the amount of available commercial land in Canmore. The project aims to shift non-residential values from 18 per cent to 28 per cent of Canmore’s total assessment. It plans to create areas for economic development and diversification for Canmore’s business community to operate within and serve the broader community.
Will Administration be providing additional information (generated internally or from an independent third party) to inform Council and community on whether the ASPs can provide a positive financial impact?
The applicant has submitted a Municipal Fiscal Impact Assessment (MFIA) as part of their ASP application, which included data largely originating from the Town, analysis informed by best practices and input from Town Administration. With this in mind, Town Administration determined that this report provided sufficient information for Council’s consideration of the proposed ASP applications. If Council requires further information on the assumptions or recommendations within the report, they can request this of the applicant prior to consideration of second and third reading of the ASPs.

Housing

What is the proposed population of the entire project?
The total population for Three Sisters Village is estimated to be 5,800 to 10,000. Please note, this represents a maximum occupancy for all potential hotels and visitor accommodation. The total population for Smith Creek is estimated at 2,200 to 4,500. 
How many houses, hotel rooms, and people now live on Three Sisters lands?
2,632 residential units have been built within Three Sisters to date.

Currently WorldMark Canmore is the only visitor accommodation (hotel) on TSMV lands. They have 112 rooms.

The last municipal census was completed in 2014, so recent and accurate tracking of population outside of Stats Canada data is unavailable. 
Can more Employee Housing be required within the ASP areas?
Currently the Town does not have policy to require additional employee housing.
Can more Vital Homes (formerly known as PAH) housing be required within the ASP areas?
In the province of Alberta, non-chartered municipalities do not have the ability to require affordable housing.
Transportation
How will the increased traffic be accommodated on our existing roads?
TSMV is proposing a pedestrian oriented development that encourages walking and cycling for trips to local destinations within the plan areas. The planning includes prioritization of dedicated transit routes that serve the majority of new development within short walking distances to stops. Their target is to decrease reliance on automobile over typical developments, in order to minimize impacts to the existing road network. The Traffic Impact Assessments completed by TSMV outline contributions to offsite improvements to pathways, roadways and sidewalks that will help the Town meet our targets for transit, walking and cycling.

Intercept Parking is proposed to be established within the Three Sisters area and would serve existing needs for events, carpooling and park and ride, as well as future growth and a shuttle service proposed for the Resort Centre.
Recreation
Do the ASPs call for new recreation amenities to be added?
Aside from a networked series of public parks and an expansion of the Town’s trail and pathway system within both ASPs, Three Sisters Village proposes an indoor recreation area and a privately-run resort recreation amenity area.

Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) is currently pursuing two separate Area Structure Plans (ASPs).

Three Sisters Village
To learn more about Three Sisters Village, visit TSMV's website by clicking here.

Smith Creek
To learn more about Smith Creek, visit TSMV's website by clicking here.


Area Structure Plan Process

If you want to learn more about the process behind an Area Structure Plan click here.

Background

  1. Council voted to postpone third reading of Bylaw 2021-05 to Tuesday, May 25, and directed Administration to meet with TSMVPL in order to review and evaluate their identified concerns and how best to achieve the stated objectives of Council as approved through amendments to the ASP at second reading. 
  2. Council approved second reading of Bylaw 2021-05 Three Sisters Village Area Structure Plan with amendments on April 27, 2021. A full list of amendments made at second reading can be found in the May 11, 2021 agenda package here.
  3. Council defeated Bylaw 2021-06 Smith Creek Area Structure Plan at second reading on April 27, 2021.
  4. A multi-day virtual public was held, concluding on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. A summary of written submissions can be found here.
  5. Council gave first reading to Bylaw 2021-05 Three Sisters Village Area Structure Plan and Bylaw 2021-06 Smith Creek Area Structure Plan on February 9, 2021.
  6. TSMV held two virtual open houses on October 1 & 2, 2020 to seek community feedback on their draft ASPs and supporting studies. They also collected feedback via their website on the draft ASPs until October 14, 2020.
  7. TSMV had conversations with active community groups in July/August 2020 to raise awareness of the ASPs and supporting studies, and listen to understand where the community had further input or questions. They plan to seek broader community input in August/September raise awareness of development benefits, impacts and community considerations; seek broad community input including use of virtual tools; and then revise ASP submissions based on administration and community feedback. 
  8. On June 16, 2020 TSMV provided an update to Council on their next steps. A copy of their presentation is pdf here (1002 KB) .
  9. On March 3, 2020, a delegate from the Government of Alberta, Rick Blackwood, reviewed the process involved in their  pdf decision to approve the wildlife corridor (1.42 MB)  in Smith Creek.   pdf Proposed Corridor map (708 KB)    pdf Final Three Sisters decision presentation (822 KB)   pdf Wildlife Corridors Cursory Literature Review March 10 2020 Final (506 KB)    pdf 20200128 Wildlife Corridor Golder Evaluation (8.10 MB)    pdf 20200128 FINAL TSVMPL Smith Creek Corridor Application L (1.71 MB)    
  10. On January 22, 2019, TSMV presented Council with the results of their “ pdf What We Heard (1.66 MB) ” report. The community outreach took place throughout Canmore in October and November 2018. 
  11. On Oct. 2, 2018 Council approved a  pdf Terms of Reference (319 KB)  that maps out the process and scope of both ASP's. 

Three Sisters planning history

Learn more about the history of the Three Sisters lands, development, and area structure plans.

Read More

Undermining

Click here for more information on undermining regulations in Canmore.

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