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Updated redevelopment plan being considered for Canmore's Teepee Town area

"Should the vision of the group move forward through third reading and into regulation, it would make it easier for residents to re-imagine their properties and therefore make it easier for planning and engineering to work together."

CANMORE – Redevelopment of Canmore's Teepee Town neighbourhood has occurred a slower pace than municipal officials or residents expected over the past two decades and as a result, a newly updated plan for the area is under consideration.

The Teepee Town area redevelopment plan (ARP) was initially created and approved by council in 2005, but only 17 per cent of structures in the neighbourhood have been redeveloped since that time. 

Development planner Nathan Grivell said a lack of progress towards redevelopment has led to concerns the regulations were not user friendly. Grivell said concerns were also raised by residents of the area, who form a task force to annually review the ARP, and more flexibility was requested. 

"In addition, the development community raised concerns about how the regulations in the area redevelopment plan created barriers to redevelopment," he told council during its regular business meeting May 5. 

An ARP, similar to an area development plan, sets out a blueprint for the redevelopment of a neighbourhood. The statutory planning document outlines permitted and discretionary land uses, location and design of municipal improvements, as well as allowable densities for development. 

In 2017, administration began a formal review of the ARP and sought feedback from residents on a number of issues, like architectural design and neighbourhood character. Grivell said the feedback received was that residents in Teepee Town were open to change. 

He said changes that were supported by the community included increased densities, landscaping regulations that preserved mature trees and the inclusion of accessory dwelling units. 

"In addition, the feedback indicated there would be support for increased building heights and allowing modern mountain architecture," Grivell said. 

When it came to updating the Teepee Town ARP, Grivell said the goals included: creating a policy framework that was user friendly; ensuring effective use of land; an increase of housing opportunities; updating the plan to set parameters for the area's transportation network; and ensure the bylaw adheres with the Municipal Development Plan. 

Grivell said if approved, the new land use concepts contained in the proposed ARP update will increase the allowable density of the overall area by up to 189 residential units, expand the commercial development area, and allow for the possibility of fourplexes and low-rise apartment buildings in the area adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway. 

Commercial development is proposed to expand along Second Avenue all the way to Hospital Place, whereas currently in the ARP it is limited along the road, which faces on to Bow Valley Trail. As well, the option to develop residential at the ground level along Second Avenue is proposed to be removed. The net increase of commercial floor area is estimated at 3,200 square metres. 

The ARP also provides direction to develop incentives and bonuses to encourage the development of accessory dwelling units, which are also allowed in multi-unit developments in the plan. 

If the bylaw receives third reading, it will also require amendments to the Land Use Bylaw to bring the district in line with the updated statutory planning document. 

Councillor Joanna McCallum sits on the Teepee Town Task Force, which provided feedback for changes to the plan. She said while the changes proposed are less restrictive than what was included in the original ARP, it is still in line with requirements for other subdivisions in the Town of Canmore. 

"Should the vision of the group move forward through third reading and into regulation, it would make it easier for residents to re-imagine their properties and therefore make it easier for planning and engineering to work together," McCallum said. 

That includes planning for the future road rehabilitation needed in the area. The streets and roads throughout Teepee Town require upgrading of the surface and deep utility infrastructure. 

"Obviously the roadways in some cases are in quite poor condition," said project engineer Brian Kinzie. "Upon approval of the area redevelopment plan, we would review the requirements in Teepee Town and come back to council with proposals for rehabilitating and enhancing [the transportation network] as part of the budget process." 

The ARP requires the creation of a roadway network plan, which will inform future work. However, projects would be determined through council's annual capital budget approval process. 

For more information on the ARP, go to the Town of Canmore's website page for current projects

A public hearing is scheduled for June 2 at 9 a.m. on the amendments to the Teepee Town ARP. The public is welcome to present during the livestreamed Zoom meeting, but registration is required in advance. 

Email to send a written submission, or register to present during the public hearing. 

Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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