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The Gateway commercial development gets go-ahead

“I’m definitely in favour of approving this subdivision. It’s going to bring great benefit to the community, so the Gateway district has always been envisioned as a mixed commercial use and with the discussions and proposals in place, it’s clear to me the Gateway will bring a benefit to the community that we need and want.”

CANMORE – The largest commercial project in recent memory for Canmore will start to take shape.

A residential lot and multiple commercial lots were approved by the Town of Canmore’s subdivision authority for the Gateway at Three Sisters Mountain Village.

The commercial aspect has been of particular interest to Canmore residents, especially those in the Stewart Creek area who are mostly without commercial needs in the development.

“I’m definitely in favour of approving this subdivision,” Mayor John Borrowman said. “It’s going to bring great benefit to the community, so the Gateway district has always been envisioned as a mixed commercial use, and with the discussions and proposals in place, it’s clear to me the Gateway will bring a benefit to the community that we need and want.”

The decision means 11 commercial, a multi-family residential and five additional lots for environmental and municipal reserve on the 18.77-hectare location.

The existing four-way stop would eventually be replaced with a roundabout. The development will be located at the entrance of Three Sisters along the Trans-Canada Highway.

It would also include a two- to four-storey office and light industrial buildings towards the eastern side of the site, as well as a four-storey mixed-use.

As part of the approval, 41 conditions for development need to be met at various points of planning and construction.

“I think these conditions will help to bring certainty for the community on many important aspects of the development as it rolls out,” Borrowman said. “These conditions will continue to help shape both the development as well as the future benefit for our whole community. … As the project builds out, the decisions will be made that reflect the spirit and intent of the subdivision approving authority at this time.”

The massive agenda featured 357 pages in the main package, plus a 372-page subdivision mining impact report on the Gateway lands and a 420-page mining impact report on the Three Sisters Parkway. Both impact studies were completed by Wood Canada Ltd.

The two reports are required as part of the Municipal Government Act under the Canmore Undermining Review regulation. The work was completed between 2018-20 and involved LiDAR investigation, 3D modelling, working to fully understand the geological setting of the area and the potential mine subsidence hazards.

The subdivision authority provided nine reasons for approval, which ranged from the plan conforming to the Stewart Creek area structure plan (ASP), the compatibility of the use with nearby areas and providing adequate land for the municipal reserve.

The project will also see 1.3 hectares added to the municipal reserve for a future playground, pond trail, gravel trail and off-leash dog park.

TSMV has been vocal in saying it plans to keep ownership of the commercial development and will lease the properties.

The initial subdivision authority meeting was held on Monday (Oct. 4) afternoon for about three hours. However, an error by Town staff led them to make the original presentation based on a prior plan, leading to a less than 10-minute meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 5) afternoon to approve the plan.

It also served as the first municipal public meeting between the Town of Canmore and TSMV since council voted down the Three Sisters Village ASP at third reading.

TSMV has since filed an appeal for both the Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek ASPs and they are before the Land and Property Rights Tribunal – a quasi-judicial provincial board – with the merit hearing likely to begin early in 2022.

Canmore council unanimously approved the Gateway moving forward in April, but only after it had postponed the zoning at a March public hearing following concerns of residential development taking priority over the commercial aspect.

According to the agenda, the application was received on March 26, but extensions were needed for Town staff to complete the process.

The site plan has one- and two-storey commercial buildings with retail being proposed on the west side. The development would have two- to four-storey office and light industrial buildings towards the eastern side of the site, including a four-storey mixed-use.

There would be roughly 200 units created for employee housing and at the easternmost area, there would also be up to 197 medium-density residential units, which includes townhomes and apartments.

The University of Saskatchewan has previously voiced interest in having its research centre in the development, including homes for staff.

The plan is one of the remaining undeveloped parcels of land in the Stewart Creek area structure plan.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for Canmore,” Coun. Rob Seeley said. “I’m looking forward to the commercial development and the businesses it could benefit.”