Individuals, communities and nations create stories about who we are and who we would like to become. The story we end up living, which becomes our history, is the one that matters.
As a social species, human history is broadly collective. During the most chilling periods of humanity's past, the more severe the damage we inflicted on a people or place, the more likely it was either sanctioned by a government or tacitly supported by one. Might, and law, has never made right, but it often writes the stories of history, for better or worse.
During the public hearing for the proposed area structure plans for Three Sisters Mountain Village and Smith Creek, we heard a story about who the people of Canmore are – or, where we have failed, who we aspire to become. According to this story, we are a people who value the hard work of reconciliation that is needed with our indigenous neighbours whose traditional land we occupy. We are a people who value our natural world and are willing to do the hard work of meaningfully protecting that which we have not yet destroyed. We are a people striving for a town with a diversity of people living in safe homes and affordable neighbourhoods with a sustainable tax-base – both because such things are right, and because healthy communities and economies require them.
It is now up to Town council to decide what the story of Canmore will be, just as other governments and individuals throughout history have been the primary authors of their people’s stories. Humanities darkest times occurred not because people didn’t know where they were headed was wrong, but because too many individuals, and especially those with the authority of office and/or the privilege of wealth, decided it wasn’t their responsibility, or within their jurisdiction, to do what was right.
Taking the easy way out has never made the world a better place. Our preference for the path of least resistance is the reason why our world’s social and environmental problems are being passed on exponentially to future generations.
The road to a better future will first require the courage of our council to say about the ASPs “we can and will do better.” Given that opportunity, our community needs to stand behind council with all the expertise, intellect and engagement we offered during our public hearing.
Our provincial government needs to know their inadequate wildlife corridor is as unacceptable as their coal mines, and an environmental and economic gem like Canmore needs municipal protections so we don’t end up loving this place to death. Our Indigenous neighbours deserve the respect of honest reconciliation – not just reconciliation in spirit. Future generations need to know we worked to protect this place.
Let us create a legacy that respects this place and those who will inherit it.