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A year in review: Canmore 2019

The year 2019 held many big things for Canmore, including town council declaring a state of climate emergency and approval of an entirely new Land Use Bylaw
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January

The year began with some uncertainty surrounding the Nordic Centre’s ability to host biathlon events. The 1988 winter Olympics legacy facility was in need of upgrades in order to meet the requirements necessary to host world cup calibre events. According to Ken Davies, chair of Alberta Event Hosting Society for Biathlon, the Nordic Centre’s A-licence from the International Biathlon Union (IBU) was up for renewal in June. The provincial government identified  $10 million worth of upgrades at the facility, including a new biathlon building, expanded biathlon stadium and renovations to the range, however it was not chosen for funding in the 2019 budget.

The municipality began drafting a 10-year cultural master plan to become the guiding policy and long-term vision for Canmore’s cultural sector. Awarded to A. Adair & Associattes Consulting, the consulting firm spent the next 10 months gathering information about the community’s cultural assets and priorities to help it develop the plan.

APM Construction, the general contractor involved in the gas explosion that destroyed a home and damaged many other homes near it, pleaded not guilty at the Canmore Provincial Court. The explosion in June 2015 damaged more than a dozen homes after an ATCO gas line was struck. Occupational health and safety conducted a two-year investigation resulting in multiple charges against APM Construction and Service and Ground Zero Grading Inc. and two individuals. 

February

Canmore’s elected officials agreed to postpone a controversial development project in the Peaks of Grassi neighbourhood. After a closed door meeting, council voted to postpone the decision until March 19.

Employee housing became a sticking point for the Town of Canmore during the public hearing for the Land Use Bylaw. Nearly two-dozens residents voiced concerns surrounding a proposal that would require hotels and hostels along Bow Valley Trail to build employee housing.

March

The Town of Canmore borrowed $7.6 million to help pay for five capital projects approved in its 2019 and 2020 capital budgets. Council unanimously approved the second and third reading of the five borrowing bylaws in March, which included money for the Town’s new organic diversion program, replacement of a lift station, construction of a water main, upgrades to several wastewater mains and improvement to the water pressure along Bow Valley Trail to meet firefighting requirements.

The Town of Canmore received a $125,000 grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to hire a climate change specialist as part of its administration.

The controversial Peaks of Grassi development returned to council and elected officials approve a last minute amendment that would see one parcel of three under consideration remain undeveloped.

The 2019 provincial election kicked off with candidates Miranda Rosin (UCP), Brenda Stanton (Alberta Party), Cam Westhead (NDP) and Anita Crowshoe (Alberta Independence Party) volleying for local votes.

April

Liberal candidate Gwyneth Midgley joined the Banff-Kananaskis race.

The Town of Canmore’s elected officials voted to ban jumping from the Engine Bridge under its new parks bylaw. Anyone caught jumping or repelling from Town-owned infrastructure into a body of water will face a $500 fine.

Council unanimously agreed to fast-track a pilot project to divert organic waste from the landfill to begin in September, a year earlier than originally planned.

The United Conservative Party won a majority provincial government. Miranda Rosin was elected as the MLA for Banff-Kananaskis.

The Town of Canmore banked a $1.4 million surplus, which the finance committee unanimously voted to transfer into five reserve funds.

May

A plan to redesign one of Canmore’s busiest intersections – Bow Valley Trail, Benchlands Trail and Railway Avenue – began to take shape as part of the Town’s integrated transportation management plan.

Council approved making the local Roam Transit route fare-free for the rest of the year. It also approved a change to the route that would see it loop through Kananaskis Way on weekdays and removed the Canmore Nordic Centre stop on weekends.

The controversial Peaks of Grassi development was back again after council voted 4-3 to pass third reading of the contentious rezoning bylaw.

Vanmore became a hot-topic in the community, with council opting to take a different approach to manage those sleeping in their vehicles overnight in municipal parking lots near the railway tracks. Council debated three proposed options to manage the number of people parking in the area overnight behind Save-On-Foods, with the new rule meaning those living in their vehicles would have to move every morning for a two-hour window between 7-9 a.m.

Stone Creek Properties, the developer of Silvertip, decided to take the Town of Canmore to court after its appeal to build more residential housing was denied. The developer decided to appeal a Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) decision to Alberta’s Court of Appeal after the board refused to allow the developer to build more residential housing, indicating this is because its application didn’t comply with the phasing of Silvertip’s area structure plan.

Canmore council voted to approve of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis’ 10-year strategic plan.

The Canmore Legion hosted its annual general meeting where a motion put forward in 2016 to sell the land it has occupied for decades to fund a redevelopment project was defeated.

June

Ground Zero Grading Inc. was fined $25,000 in Calgary Provincial Court after entering a guilty plea to charges stemming from the 2015 gas explosion.

A new structure at the Canmore Provincial Courthouse for the intake of prisoners drew the ire of local residents who expressed concerns with the fact the 10-foot tall fence was also covered in razor wire. 

The Canmore Community Cruisers launched a campaign to lobby the municipal government to consider lowering vehicle speed limits in the community to create safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians. 

Canmore council voted unanimously to install a rainbow crosswalk in the downtown core and officially flew a Pride flag in front of the Civic Centre for the first time. While the crosswalk was later painted in the plaza area where the farmers market is held each week, wet weather meant the paint did not dry properly and the rainbow quickly disappeared. 

Canmore Collegiate High School principal Chris Rogers announced after several months of discussions within the student body that the name of the school's sports teams would be permanently changed from the Crusaders to the Wolverines. No additional funding was needed, said school officials, to rebrand its sports teams for the upcoming school year. 

July

The new design plan to ease congestion and improve other modes of transportation in Canmore was approved. Phase one of the concept design plan included redesigning the intersection of Railway Avenue and Bow Valley Trail next year to help separate vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists by building islands, medians and separated bike lanes.

The Nordic Centre officially lost world cup biathlon events after the province missed a deadline to upgrade the facility.

An electric vehicle charging station opened up in Canmore beside the Miners Union Hall.

Council hired an outreach worker to talk to those living in their vehicles in Vanmore to collect data to eventually present a recommendation to council in the fall. Meanwhile, the bylaw officers handed out 46 parking tickets to drivers who violated the Town’s new early morning parking restrictions behind Save-On-Foods.

August

New statistics showed Canmore’s rental rates jumped 71 per cent since 2016, prompting housing advocates to speak up about the lack of affordability in the Bow Valley.

The Town’s planning commission approved a new two-storey, mixed-use retail development project on the undeveloped land behind Nutters and Home Hardware. The 10,000 square foot project includes four employee-housing units and 68 parking stalls.

The Town of Canmore made eight-litre compost bins available to residents just before the organics pilot project officially kicks off. All 2,000 bins initially ordered to launch the program were quickly taken by residents eager to compost organic waste. 

Canmore council approved steeper fines for residents who don’t remove fruit from their trees or have birdfeeders on their property. Council unanimously agreed to increase the fines from $100 to $250 as part of a larger wildlife attractant management plan.

September

The Town of Canmore unveiled its new bear-safe compost bins with an artistic wrap by local artist Pascale Ouellet. Five large-scale neighbourhood bins were spread out throughout the town for the launch of the new program.

The Lions Park tennis court refurbishment plan returned to council with a revised scope and budget plan. The revised plan will see four courts installed in Canmore as opposed to the initial five proposed.

An update on the ongoing construction of Our Lady of the Rockies Roman Catholic Church indicated construction is on track despite a few hiccups and an architect change. The $14 million project is expected to wrap up in spring 2020.

After research was conducted by an outreach worker, the Town of Canmore learns those living in their vehicles are typically doing so only seasonally and are willing to pay a reasonable price to park overnight.

October

The Town of Canmore declared a state of climate emergency. Council unanimously approved the emergency as well as a motion for Mayor John Borrowman to write a letter to Premier Jason Kenney on the issue.

Hawks Bend perpetually affordable housing home ownership project held its grand opening.

At an update on phase two of the Bow River Seniors Lodge expansion, officials confirmed the construction of the $16.9 million facility to begin in 2020.

Canmore council approved the second reading of the Land Use Bylaw with a number of recommendations including to keep a cap on maximum house sizes and the removal of a past recommendation that would require hotels and hostels along Bow Valley Trail to provide onsite employee housing.

Canmore Community Housing Corporation (CCHC) approves a new strategic plan that included direction to create two new pilot programs to help address housing affordability.

November

The provincial government announced it's cutting the popular Parent Link program, causing panic among the community as parents and staff grapple with the looming closure.

The Town of Canmore's finance department predicted it will have a surplus from its 2018 operating budget of roughly $1.5 million by the end of the year.

Canmore moved closer to approving a paid parking system as a way to manage traffic congestion. Elected officials opted to fund fare-free transit in 2020 in combination with the roll out of paid parking in the downtown in June to encourage residents to leave their vehicles at home.

The Town hosted a second public hearing concerning the Land Use Bylaw. Members of the public hone in on affordable housing and what some felt was a lack of communication from the Town. Developers volleyed for elected officials to remove the cap on house sizes.

The topic of creating a new position for in-house legal counsel for the Town of Canmore was discussed at council's regular finance meeting. The Town could potentially set aside $170,000 to pay for the creation of the position, as opposed to $150,000 currently used to pay for legal contracts.

December

Canmore’s elected officials approved a design process for a new fire hall to be located on Palliser Trail.  The new eight-bay fire hall would see added storage space and training areas, to replace the current fire hall located on 10th Street.

A paid parking program for downtown Canmore is officially approved to commence in June 2020.

Council voted unanimously to purchase a parcel of land along Palliser Trail for $1.8 million to use for future affordable housing development. The 2.16 acre parcel is currently home to the New Life Christian Centre, which as a non-profit made the decision to dissolve and divest its assets.

Canmore launched a studded-bike tire rebate and it's fully subscribed in under a week.

Canmore’s town council voted unanimously to pass third and final reading of the new Land Use Bylaw. With its approval also comes the policy groundwork to maximize the development of accessory dwelling units within the community.



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About the Author: Alana MacLeod

Alana MacLeod is a reporter for the Rocky Mountain Outlook. Previously, she worked for Global News Toronto as a news producer and writer. Follow her on Twitter: @Lans_macleod
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