Town of Canmore

Cougar Creek

This page contains information on the Debris Retention Structure and will be updated on a regular basis during construction - keeping you up to date on impacts in the area.

Construction Impacts - Updated November 5, 2020

At this time we are still moving ahead with capital projects, this project is a key piece of infrastructure for the safety of the community. 

  • Rock blasting continues on a regular basis.
  • Expect machinery and large trucks to be moving in the creek bed on a regular basis.
  • The Lady MacDonald hiking trail is closed until further notice, while rock blasting and work in that area take place. We expect the trail to remain closed throughout the fall as blasting continues. 
  • Cougar Creek Canyon remains closed for the duration of construction.
  • The following closures are currently in place:

Long-Term Mitigation: Debris Flood Retention Structure 

What will it look like?

  • 34m high rock-filled embankment dam (not constructed out of concrete)
  • Upstream and downstream faces covered by soil and seeded
  • 20m wide rock-cut spillway on the east abutment that includes wildlife egress areas

What will it do?

  • Existing channel and downstream culverts can accommodate 50-60 m3/s, but a natural event on the creek could easily reach 80 m3/s peak flow with 20% debris (fine sediment to large boulders, including gravel and woody debris)
  • The Structure reduces peak flow to 45 m3/s. It further reduces the quantity of debris and removes the larger debris
  • The risk to downstream private and commercial properties, as well as infrastructure, is therefore reduced to an acceptable level
  • There is no water retention during regular operation (dry dam) – water flows freely through a low-level outlet
  • A high capacity spillway is required to ensure flows can bypass the structure during an extreme flood event

Contact Us

For more information on the project email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or sign up to our mailing list below

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For more history on Cougar Creek visit the Creek Resources Webpage

Frequently Asked Questions

What do the construction closures involve?
The closure during construction will impact climbing and hiking in Cougar Creek; all other access to the trails and scrambles in the area will remain open with the exception of blasting closures. Trails that will remain open include Montane, Lady MacDonald, Grotto Mountain and the Horseshoe loop. Do not attempt to access the closure area at, thru, or around the construction sites at any time.
Why are closures being put in place? What alternatives were considered?
The construction closure is to ensure public and contractor safety as well as timely and cost-efficient construction.
Alberta Parks and the Town of Canmore considered constructing an alternative route around the closure to access Cougar Creek Canyon. Due to the challenging steep terrain on Lady MacDonald and Grotto Mountain, Alberta Parks determined that closing access is the best alternative for ensuring public safety. 
Is it possible to hike around the closure to access the canyon?
Hiking around the closure to access Cougar Canyon is not permitted. There is a designated wildlife corridor in this area of Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park and use is only permitted on designated trails.
Construction Contract Details
The contract to construct the Debris Flood Retention Structure has been awarded to Flatiron Constructors Canada Limited. The contract was awarded at a value of $32.8 million. They bring essential experience in building large infrastructure projects in challenging locations. 

RIDGE Environmental Planning will serve as a third-party Environmental Monitor during the construction of the Cougar Creek Structure. The contract was awarded at a value of $159,000. 
What environmental studies have been undertaken for the project?
A very comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been undertaken for the project. The EIA was followed by three rounds of supplemental information request by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Once the EIA was deemed complete by AEP, the Natural Resource Conservation Board reviewed the project and approved it in October of 2019. The EIA and supplemental information reports, as well as the NRCB review and decision can be found here.
What environmental approvals are required for the project?
The following approvals have been acquired for the project:
NRCB Approval
Water Act Approval
Alberta Parks Disposition (land within the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park that is being leased to the Town of Canmore for the construction, operation, and maintenance of the Debris Flood Retention Structure).
How is the Town ensuring that the best environmental practices are being followed during construction?
The Town has been working with its consultants and Alberta Environment and Parks to create guiding documents for the construction of the project. The two main guiding documents are:
1. The Construction Environmental Management Plan, that describes principles, best practices and specific requirements during the construction of the project; and 
2. The Water Quality Management and Monitoring Environmental Protection Plan, that describes the water monitoring requirements during construction of the project.
Moreover, the contractor is required to submit to the Town and its consultants several work plans and environmental protection plans (EPPs) that need to follow the requirements of the guiding documents described above. Examples of plans required for the project: Care of Water work plan, Erosion and Sediment Control EPP, Wildlife and Human Conflict EPP, Invasive Species Control EPP, etc.
How are environmental issues being monitored during construction?
The Town has hired a third-party consultant, RIDGE Environmental Planning, to monitor the environmental aspects of the project during construction. RIDGE works directly for the Town and is responsible for monitoring compliance with the guiding documents. They have a dedicated Environmental Monitor, based out of Canmore, that regularly visits the site and provide reports and guidance to the Town.
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