DEAD MAN'S FLATS – The province of Alberta and the MD of Bighorn have officially signed off on a land swap that will see a parcel of environmentally sensitive land in Dead Man's Flats protected.
The land exchange sees Alberta Environment and Parks take ownership of a five-hectare parcel of land located adjacent to the G8 Legacy wildlife underpass from the municpality and 3.4 hectares of high value wildlife habitat adjacent to the Bow River. In return, the MD of Bighorn will receive land suitable for development, which will help it boost economic growth in the region.
“The land swap affords the MD of Bighorn a long-term sustainable tax base and future business opportunities in the hamlet of Dead Man’s Flats and lands along Highway 1A east of Exshaw," said MD of Bighorn Reeve Dene Cooper and a press release. "In partnership with the province, the MD has achieved our ecological and economic touchstones.”
The land in Dead Man's has a 17-year history, with the MD of Bighorn having reached an agreement to swap it for land along the 1X Highway in 2012. However, the deal was cancelled by the then minister and the government, which did not support swapping land from the provincial park in order to protect the parcel in Dead Man's Flats.
As a result of the failed land swap, the MD of Bighorn pursued an area development plan for the site, which was unsuccessfully challenged by the Town of Canmore at the Municipal Government Board in 2016.
That parcel is adjacent to the wildlife underpass and is considered by conservationists to be a vital part of the network of habitat patches and wildlife corridors that animals use to navigate and survive in the Bow Valley.
“I commend the MD of Bighorn for its cooperation and getting this deal done," said Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon in a press release. "Both parties win in this exchange – we help protect wildlife habitat while creating space for new economic activity to benefit residents in the region.”
In exchange, the MD of Bighorn will receive 23 hectares ofland east of Exshaw. According to the press release, the land values of both parcels in the exchange were independently assesed to be of similar value.