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LETTER: Growing pains

Editor: Jackson, Wyoming (Jackson Hole) is one of the biggest resort towns in U.S. It borders two national parks and world-class ski resorts much like Canmore. In 1994, it faced similar development pressures that Canmore is facing today.

Editor:

Jackson, Wyoming (Jackson Hole) is one of the biggest resort towns in U.S.

It borders two national parks and world-class ski resorts much like Canmore. In 1994, it faced similar development pressures that Canmore is facing today.

The quiet western community was facing above average growth that threatened to leave its residents needs and values behind. In order to save the small town from massive development projects it banded together and created a comprehensive plan of how to develop its resources with aspects like community character, natural and scenic assets, wildlife and size of individual development projects in mind. The following is just a small example of their vision statement.

  • Jacksons wildlife and scenic resources are a local and national treasure and therefore the community recognizes a stewardship responsibility for their protection from future development in Teton County.
  • Teton County is a community first and a resort second. Social diversity is a defining characteristic of the community and sufficient and appropriate housing is seen as essential to retain that characteristic in the future.
  • High-end residential and commercial development will not be permitted to dominate the community at the expense of affordable housing opportunities for permanent residents.
  • The intent of this plan is to create conditions for a sustainable visitor-based economy not dependent upon growth and an economy that reflects the unique small town western commercial character of Jackson and the outdoor recreational opportunities of Teton County. Retaining our heritage and culture are key components of the visitor experience.

These quotes are only a very small example of Jackson’s comprehensive plan to retain its community character.

The following quotes were taken from the Canmore Kananaskis Community Tourism Strategy Key Themes, Nov. 23 2018.

  • Our community brand is based on respect for the environment, celebrating our authentic mountain lifestyle and sharing our history. We must protect, feed, nurture, share and celebrate the “soul “of this place.
  • Our tourism industry is only as strong as the people who contribute to it. We need to keep our community open and inclusive by ensuring attractive and affordable living options are available to residents and workers who support our community and way of life.
  • The sustainability of our natural environment is central to the long-term viability of our brand. We must work hard to balance the need for growth with development activities that preserve our irreplaceable natural landscape.

Canmore’s unique character is being compromised by development that is insensitive to our wildlife and mountain setting. The breathtaking feeling of arriving somewhere special is in decline and at a very real tipping point as we continue to tear down our natural beauty for golf courses and subdivisions.

Council has shown a disappointing lack of vision with no sense of community and a troubling lack of will to address the issues that its citizens have emphatically expressed concerning the town and the Three Sisters Mountain Village proposal.

Council's responsibility is to guide Canmore and its citizens into the 21st-century in a manner that honours the town and the Bow Valley’s heritage and its magnificent mountain landscape for future generations of Canmore, the people of Alberta, and Canada.

Balance of growth is imperative to a livable community and to maintain Canmore’s small-town charm and mountain character. When the number of non-permanent residents outnumber permanent residents, the impact is a decreased quality of life for all and a reduced viability for tourism business.

When you visit Jackson today, 25 years after they developed their comprehensive plan, you know you are walking into somewhere special and unique. You feel the heritage and richness of the preserved spirit of the old west intertwined with modern era.

We need to be in control of our own destiny and not leave it in the hands of developers. Let’s come together as a community like Jackson did in 1994, and create a plan for development that enhances our beauty in a symbiotic way; to truly preserve our rich heritage for ourselves and the world to enjoy.

Linda Evans and Beau Evans,

Canmore