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Canmore votes in favour of Bison Belong

Most of Canmore’s politicians support the reintroduction of bison in Banff National Park.

Most of Canmore’s politicians support the reintroduction of bison in Banff National Park.

After being asked to pass a motion of support last month by Bison Belong, council voted last Tuesday (April 5) to encourage Parks Canada to move ahead with wild bison restoration in the Bow and Red Deer River valleys and encourage the provincial government to co-operate with the federal agency.

However, not all councillors were in support of the idea, with Gordie Miskow and Joanna McCallum voting against the motion.

Miskow said he is supportive of bison as part of the heritage of the area, but he could not vote for a motion introducing the species into another jurisdiction.

“To make a motion to introduce something into another jurisdiction without knowing the implications… I cannot support this,” he said.

While McCallum sits as council representative on Wildsmart, she said the role of that group is not to endorse proposals, but educate the public.

She gave no explanation for voting against the motion.

Mayor Ron Casey said the motion means Canmore wants Parks Canada and the province of Alberta to get together and work on the project.

Casey said he has attended two or three open houses and presentations on the topic and having wild bison on the landscape would become an attraction for the area.

He said Bison Belong asked Canmore to make the motion because the town is linked to the national park through population and tourism.

“I think from a long-term tourism perspective in Canmore there is relevancy if this is done in a responsible manner,” said the mayor. “It makes sense to encourage this.”

He added the reintroduction won’t see wild bison wandering out of the park into Canmore as they are to be small herds located in remote areas.

Councillor Hans Helder recalled visiting Banff when the buffalo paddock was still in operation.

He said while wildlife management policies have changed, he is supportive of the project.

“I think this would have positive spinoff benefits for Canmore,” Helder said. “(Bison) are a substantial t ourism draw.”

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