The year in Bighorn
Thursday, Dec 28, 2017 10:28 am
January: RCMP shot and killed a man while investigating a homicide on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation near Morley on Jan. 7. The shooting happened while police were investigating the murder of Lorenzo ďBillyĒ Bearspaw, whose body was found Jan. 6 after he had been reported missing on Jan. 3 by his sister. Ralph Stephens, 27, from Stoney Nakoda, died from his injuries after he allegedly opened fired on RCMP members with a shotgun before being fatally wounded. He was one of three men charged with first-degree murder in Bearspawís death. John Stephens, 29, and Deangelo Powderface, 22, from Stoney Nakoda were also charged with first-degree murder.
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) put forward a plan to decommission overnight campsites in Dead Manís Flats and Kananaskis Country, which caught some locals off guard. The proposal included closing 36 overnight campsites at Three Sisters Campground in Dead Manís Flats in favour of it becoming a daily and seasonal day-use area. After listening to the public, the provincial agency backtracked and announced it would restore 11 overnight campsites.
The RCMP began probing the discovery of human remains at two separate locations in late January. On Jan. 25 a resident of the Stoney Nakoda Nation called police to report his dog had found what he thought was a human bone. Upon further investigation RCMP found four bones in the area. The medical examinerís office in Calgary confirmed two of the bones were from a human; a lower jaw and skull. The second discovery occurred on Jan. 29 after a civilian discovered what he believed to be human remains embedded in snow and ice in a remote, wooded area near Jumping Pound Demonstration Forest, south of Highway 1. Police confirmed the remains were indeed human, but did not believe the two discoveries were related.
Six potential locations were put forward to possibly build an energy-from-waste facility in the region. After almost two years of extensive feasibility and engineering studies, the Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association (SAEWA) said it was in the final planning stages to develop a facility that will convert municipal solid waste into energy, although six possible locations remained confidential.
Human remains found on Jan. 29 near Jumping Pound were identified as those of a missing Calgary man reported in September 2016. The Calgary Police Service homicide unit deemed the death suspicious and investigators continued to determine the circumstances that led to his death.
The Town of Canmore lost an appeal to overturn the Municipal District of Bighornís area structure plan for Dead Manís Flats March 1. In a report, the municipal government board sided with the MD of Bighorn on its plan to develop 29 hectares of recreational light-commercial land in the north and east areas of the hamlet stating it did not have a detrimental effect on a nearby wildlife underpass and efforts for steep creek mitigation along Pigeon Creek. The Town argued the MDís plan would reduce the effectiveness of a nearby wildlife underpass and impair wildlife connectively across the valley. Complicating matters, a long-standing land-swap negotiation between the province and MD dating back to 2003 appeared to be making progress in resolving the matter, however, negotiations failed to achieve anything meaningful.
Officials with the Stoney Nakoda First Nation called upon the province and other municipalities in the Bow Valley to include them in future economic conversations during an economic roundtable in early April. Bearspaw Chief Darcy Dixon reminded his counterparts that to this day the Bow Valley is, in the minds of the Nakoda people, still traditional territory and therefore they should be included in economic development in the region.
After closing its door two years ago for renovations, Eagleís Nest Stoney family centre reopened in May. The Indigenous shelter for women and children fleeing violence was shuttered in April 2015 after an engineering firm found a number of issues with the building. The five-bedroom building can accommodate up to five families, or four families and a room for singles with three to four beds in each room.
A deliberately set fire destroyed McDougall Memorial United Church east of Morley during the early morning hours of May 22. When firefighters with the Municipal District of Bighorn arrived on scene the 142-year-old church was engulfed in flames. Fire investigators initially deemed the fire accidental, but upon further investigation an arson detection dog confirmed an accelerant was used set the fire. In the hours and weeks following the fire, community members rallied to support each other and several fundraising campaigns were launched.
A proposal to build a temporary helipad for commercial helicopter tours at the base of Mount Yamnuska faced strong opposition from conservationists, guides and climbers in June. Opponents of the helipad said they feared extra noise and helicopter activity would detract from the area, which is widely considered an ecological jewel and hiking and climbing mecca. Rockies Heli Canada proposed building a temporary helipad at the location after its lease for sightseeing tours based out of the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino ended. The MD of Bighorn argued the helipad did not comply with policy direction in the municipal development plan. The proposal was ultimately rejected by the AEP in August.
The Municipal District of Bighorn reached out for ďmeaningful conversationĒ with the province after a proposal to realign electoral boundaries raised some eyebrows. On May 25 the Alberta Electoral Boundaries Commission recommended including the Tsuu Tíina Nation, west of Calgary, as part of an expanded riding. The MD said it did not have an issue with having two First Nations in the riding, but including it with the rest of the communities in the Bow Valley was ďnot a natural grouping.Ē The interim report stated including the Tsuu Tíina Nation would allow for a greater Indigenous voice in the Banff-Stoney riding, which already includes the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. The final report tabled in October included Tsuu Tíina Nation in the new riding of Banff-Kananaskis.
A man who claimed to have been injured on a booby-trapped bike trail in Bragg Creek was charged with fraud and public mischief. The charges were laid after an investigation revealed a man lied about injuries he sustained while riding his bike. According to police, the man claimed his neck was sliced open by a piece of barbed wire that was stretched across a mountain bike trail in the Bragg Creek area on July 5. The 37-year-old man also claimed his expensive mountain bike was stolen from the scene and subsequently started a GoFundMe campaign in an attempt to raise $8,000. Soon after the alleged incident, members from the public, bike trail associations and cycling groups started to question the manís story. As a result, RCMP discovered his injuries were actually caused while he was riding an all-terrain vehicle in a different location at a different time.
Kananaskis Public Safety rescued 19 hikers from Ha Ling, Yamnuska and the East End of Rundle Mountain over a two-day period on Aug. 26-27. A lack of preparation and starting too late in the day were identified as causes for most of the hikers requiring rescue.
A draft development plan to turn the lower Kananaskis River and Barrier Lake into a water sports mecca was made public mid-September. The draft document called for the construction of a whitewater training facility at Canoe Meadows and a water sports equipment rental hut at Barrier Lake. The proposal also included building a 10- to 15-unit overnight accommodation at Barrier Lake, which could be anything from yurts and cabins to a small eco-lodge. Officials with Alberta Environment and Parks said the overnight accommodation, as well as whitewater training centre, must be off-grid.
The Chiniki Cultural Centre off Highway 1 near Morley held its grand opening on Sept. 26. Along with an indoor/outdoor cultural exhibition area, the cultural centre also offers First Nation-inspired cuisine at Stones restaurant, as well as a gallery/shop.
Residents of the Municipal District of Bighorn re-elected four out of five incumbent councillors during the municipal election on Oct. 16. Ward 2 incumbent councillor Carolyn Montgomery lost her seat to Lisa Rosvold, a relative newcomer, who now represents Dead Manís Flats, Lac Des Arcs, Harvie Heights and surrounding areas.
The Stoney Nakoda First Nation applied to have 161 names of geographical places and communities changed, however, according to the provincial agency responsible for such changes, not everything they applied for is actually possible. Alberta Geographical Names Program said it could only consider changing names for physical geographical features like lakes, rivers and mountains. The application included renaming communities such as Canmore to Chuwapchipchiyan Kude Bi and Calgary to Wichispa Oyade. Both are traditional place names, according to the Chiniki Research Team and Stoney elders.