Town of Canmore

Proposed Steep Creek Hazard Zones

Get Involved

Jan. 26, 2019 -  Learn more at the open house from 2 - 5 p.m. at Elevation Place 
Feb. 5, 2019  - A formal Public Hearing will be held to hear the public's views on the proposed bylaws

Why are we proposing a new Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and amending the Municipal Development Plan (MDP)?

Development in Canmore must address the unique conditions in the town, including natural environment considerations (e.g., flood hazards, groundwater, sub-surface hazards) and other features of human use (heliport vicinity and historic resources). Following the floods of 2013, the Town of Canmore has been working to establish an approach to managing development affected by steep creeks.  Lands that are affected by steep creek hazards have been identified in detailed hazard assessments for each creek.   

The MDP provides high-level policy direction for that approach, and sets out risk tolerance criteria for new and existing development. Read more about the proposed amendment to the MPD here. At the same time, the Steep Creek Hazard and Risk policy was adopted to help identify the lands subject to steep creek hazards and how risk is measured.

What is Proposed?

Development will be allowed in hazard zones that does not increase the risk to the occupants, such as additions to a building and adding extra stories, repairs and renovations to a building, and construction of a deck or changing the landscaping. The proposed Land Use Bylaw applies an “overlay” to the identified hazard zones, which sets out additional land use and development regulations specific for each zone. The zones include:

  • Extreme / High Zone: Within this zone, existing development is allowed to remain, but new development is limited to those uses in the underlying district that will not increase the risk. For example, new accessory dwelling units will not be allowed, nor the operation of Bed and Breakfasts during the high hazard flood season between May 15 and June 30.
  • Moderate Zone: Within this zone, all of the land uses in the underlying land use district may be allowed, subject to the results of a site specific steep creek risk assessment showing an acceptable level of risk. The operation of a Bed and Breakfast during the high hazard flood season will only be allowed where the results of the risk assessment are within the risk tolerance criteria. For example, a risk assessment for a Bed and Breakfast would examine the hazard potential, local drainage, and the design of the house for flood resiliency.
  • Low Zone: Within this zone, there are no restrictions on use or new development. A site-specific steep creek risk assessment may be required to evaluate economic risk for a significant development proposal. This will help ensure that the design of the development is resilient to economic losses in the case of a flood.

Within all hazard zones, development will be subject to site specific design requirements, such as lot grading, building floor elevation, foundation design and construction, and building openings. The Town’s Engineering Design and Construction Guidelines provide guidance for these specific design considerations, as well as the preparation of a site specific steep creek risk assessment. 

The detailed overlay maps below show the hazard rating for each lot affected by a steep creek hazard. You can also view the maps pdf here (1.87 MB) . Read the proposed steep creek regulation pdf here (28.89 MB)  and the MDP amendment pdf here (404 KB) .

The Town has established an approach to the management of steep creeks that integrates both hazard and risk considerations. Risk tolerance criteria are intended to set out the maximum levels of tolerable risks to life for both existing and new development. The two metrics used to measure safety risk include: 

  1. Group Risk – is the potential for multiple deaths in a single event.
  2. Individual Risk – is the potential for the death of an individual on a specific property in any given year, and is referred to as the Annual Probability of Death of an Individual (PDI).

The Town’s objective is to avoid new risk associated with steep creek hazards exceeding these thresholds and reduce existing risk to within these thresholds over time. Steep Creek Study Areas, Development Hold Zones and Hazard Zones have been established by the Town in order to achieve this.