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Spring Creek receives ARP amendments

“From 2004 to now, a lot of things have changed. I think it’s appropriate to come back to this plan and revise it. Moving into Phase 4 is clearly the next stage the developer is working towards, which requires amendments to proceed.”

CANMORE – A series of amendments to the Spring Creek Mountain Village area redevelopment plan received the go-ahead from Canmore council.

The amendments were approved following a short public hearing and will establish land use in Spring Creek Mountain Village (SCMV) for stage 4 of development, updates to the direct control districts and changes to development of future hotels and residential areas.

It’s the fourth series of amendments for the ARP, which was originally approved by Town council in 2004 with a proposed 550 hotel units and 150 tourist homes. An amendment at the time saw the hotel count cut to 200 and tourist homes increased to 300, according to the McElhanney report for SCMV.

“From 2004 to now, a lot of things have changed,” said Coun. Tanya Foubert. “I think it’s appropriate to come back to this plan and revise it. Moving into Phase 4 is clearly the next stage the developer is working towards, which requires amendments to proceed.”

The amendments will see part of the home park family residential district redesignated for public use such as parks and playgrounds and environmental protection of land. It also allows updates to the maximum number of storeys, traffic monitoring requirements, maximum commercial area, location of tourist homes and location of employee housing.

The estimated residential unit count, which includes the five per cent affordable housing, is 970 with it not to exceed 1,000, though the ARP permits up to 1,200 units.

Several councillors noted disappointment in the loss of perpetual affordable units with the unit count coming in slightly under 1,000, meaning the five per cent affordable housing outlined in the ARP would be around 50.

“I understand it’s something we cannot force the developer to provide and has just provided it throughout the course of development. … I’m bummed we’ll be losing some [affordable housing], but at the same time this is Alberta and we’re not allowed to force it,” said Coun. Joanna McCallum.

Both Couns. Wade Graham and Jeff Mah echoed McCallum’s sentiments, but Mayor Sean Krausert noted the residential unit guidelines in the ARP were between 800 to 1,200 units. He compared it to giving his kids $15 to $20 to complete a task, but they only remember the $20 aspect of it.

“When we were originally looking at 800-1,200 units and it’s still 800-1,000, it’s still above that threshold. … I think we’ve attached ourselves to the $20,” he said.

Frank Kernick, the owner of the SCMV, noted the affordable units are blended in with the market units to integrate members of the community.

“My costs are way more than someone doing them in a townhome. You can go down the hallway and you don’t know which is a PAH and which one is a market unit,” he said. “That was a goal not to build a PAH building, but to integrate everyone into the community. We’re just Canmore residents ... The range was also 40 to 60 PAH units.”

Kernick added 8.1 hectares (20 acres) of the 28.3 hectares (70 acres) of land have been set aside for environmental reserve, while also prioritizing solar energy and geothermal heat exchange to lessen the greenhouse gas emissions.

“Everything we’ve done in Spring Creek has had a positive impact and change for the environment,” he said.

The three-storey Alexander Hotel would be a health and wellness retreat with 54 to 66 guestrooms, with 47 parking stalls. The three-storey Kernick Place Hotel would be a family hotel with 50 to 57 guestrooms and 41 parking spots. A connected walkway to the Malcolm is proposed, but needs a separate agreement between SCMV and the Town.

Construction of the hotels would start in the next 18 to 24 months with the aim of having them completed in three to five years.

Kernick said the approval also allows them to begin planning and working with the Town’s engineering department.

During the public hearing, two people spoke in favour of the amendments and two others were against. A total of 26 letters were received. Supporters pointed to the green buildings, walkability and proximity to downtown as highlights. Those against focused on potential parking and traffic concerns as well as the additional hotels.

The total gross ARP size slightly jumps from 28.37 hectares (70.1 acres) to 28.48 hectares (70.37 acres). It increases the environmental reserve, gross developable land, commercial and residential space.

The total commercial street front space for the four stages would be 3,275 square metres and a 500-square-metre daycare.

The first and second stages of development began in 2009. Stage 3 started in 2019 and the ARP had received previous amendments in 2009, 2010 and 2015.

Some of the amendments were to align with updated Town policies such as parking, while the employee housing amendment allowed for it to be in or outside of SCMV.

“I believe what this represents is course corrections that are natural over time. … I really don’t see this other than that,” said Krausert.