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Council split on Bow Valley Trail development plan

The area redevelopment plan for Canmore’s Bow Valley Trail has stalled after council voted to postpone its first reading. The document has been in the works for well over a year and was already the subject of a public hearing earlier this spring.

The area redevelopment plan for Canmore’s Bow Valley Trail has stalled after council voted to postpone its first reading.

The document has been in the works for well over a year and was already the subject of a public hearing earlier this spring.

Development planner Patrick Sorfleet presented the ARP at the end of May to council with changes that arose from comments made by the public at the hearing.

However, Councillor Hans Helder expressed concerns that the plan is not ready for first reading without significant changes to it.

“I am really quite concerned about the level of readiness of this plan at this time,” Helder said. “I could make 10 to 15 amendments, but at the same time, I would rather not move first reading until until we have the opportunity to have much more substantial input from council to administration.”

He said the language of the plan is ambiguous and there are areas that are inconsistent and its missing a definition section.

Coun. Joanna McCallum said she did not want to move forward on the plan’s approval without a new council being elected.

“This is going to be a 50-year plan and I would like to see more consensus at this table,” she said.

Coun. Jim Ridley was the only one supportive of providing first reading to the redevelopment plan.

“The work that has gone into it has been extensive and I am quite pleased with the complete picture that will provide a guide for future development,” Ridley said.

Deputy Mayor Gordie Miskow supported the postponement because if he voted with Ridley it would have resulted in a tie vote, which means a motion is defeated.

“I support the postponement to ensure the work done and input received does not just die out, because it would be an embarrassing day for council to lose that work done,” Miskow said.

The public hearing saw people bring up issues of residential uses in the area.

Sorfleet said discussions at the workshops to draft the plan were that residential uses are ancillary and the purpose of Bow Valley Trail is commercial.

The plan does not propose any changes from the current regulations that allows up to half to be residential uses, but restricts sizes to promote smaller, more affordable units.

However, there are provisions that recognize that residential units that are perpetually affordable housing (PAH) or employee housing are beneficial to the community.

“The reason for this incentive is to create or convert PAH and employee housing,” he said.

Converting existing visitor accommodation units into residential was also addressed. Sorfleet said visitor accommodation units have a higher occupancy than second homes and that conversion of these types of units would not have an economic benefit to the community.

The length of stay restrictions included in those uses, he added, should not be removed.




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