A contentious change to a proposed mountain development was unanimously rejected by Canmore town council on Wednesday.
A motion to amend the area structure plan for Resort Centre lands at the base of Three Sisters Mountain didn't get off the floor as all seven councillors opposed first reading.
The proposed changes to the area plan included eliminating golf course lands in favour of expanding the resort core, adding more resort accommodation, more retail, commercial and more residential. In the end, the plan would have allowed for a resort core area of 40 to 50 hectares — abut four to five times the size of downtown Canmore.
"I was looking for a resort, a resort centre and what I feel is being proposed here is another town. It's a town with a bunch of services to facilitate the people who live there," said Councillor Vi Sandford. "I thought we were getting something different. I was looking for an anchor hotel. Something that would draw visitors and keep them here."
Mayor John Borrowman said he has struggled with the decision for months.
"I've thought about this issue most every day. I lay awake at night thinking about this ... There's a substantial change of use proposed for the golf course area ... and I'm not of the opinion that such a dramatic change is beneficial to the community at this time."
No one from the project proponent, QuantumPlace Developments on behalf of Three Sisters Mountain Village, was available to comment on the decision.
Borrowman hopes the developer will proceed with the original area structure plan and left the door open to possible requests for expansion down the road after full build out.
Council's decision was met with applause by residents at the meeting and conservationists opposed to the plans.
“The decision ... is a significant step forward in the effort to align our vision for Canmore with the needs of wildlife at the Y2Y scale,” says Dr. Hilary Young, program co-ordinator for Yellowstone to Yukon.
“Council made a difficult and courageous decision in voting unanimously to support our community's future and an internationally significant wildlife movement corridor. All residents of the Y2Y region can be proud today,” she said.
This was one of two plans for development on Three Sisters land on the edge of Canmore.
The other proposal is for Smith Creek, along the southwestern side of the Bow Valley. That plan is being reviewed by the Alberta government to determine if the design meets the needs of the wildlife corridor connecting Banff National Park with protected areas in Kananaskis Country.
Alberta Environment and Parks recently announced it needs a further four to eight weeks to review it. Because of that delay, Three Sisters Mountain Village and Quantum Place Developments have asked council to put their Smith Creek application on hold.