Lately there have been several letters to the editor bemoaning recent changes to Canmore – the housing developments, struggle for parking downtown, congestion of people on trails – attributing these undesirable changes to some vaguely malevolent forces of greed or profit.
I’m not really sure what these letter writers imagine to be the solution: hiring armed troopers at intersections to shoot anyone daring to pull off the highway into town?
Canada’s population increases by hundreds of thousands annually, mostly through immigration, and, according to Statistics Canada our population is projected to be 44,430,000 by 2031, an increase of around 8,000,000 over the next 12 to 15 years. In other words, a city the size of Calgary will be added to the national population every three years.
Everywhere is becoming more populated and it has nothing to do with greed, it is basic arithmetic. All these increasing numbers of people need to live somewhere and recreate somewhere.
The crowds will be getting worse in Canmore, yet we are the ones who keep drawing the animals and people to the same small patch of land and then wringing our hands about it.
Most of the conflicts seem to occur where the aging lodgepole pine monoculture has been cleared for powerlines and a hydro reservoir, creating the open habitat that wildlife need to survive. At the same time, we are preventing forest fires from clearing the land further away from town.
Perhaps one approach would be to improve the quality of wildlife habitat in the surrounding lands through fire or clearing old and dying trees, because one thing is certain: with more people, we will need to manage all our habitat better for bio-diversity, bio-productivity, and human use. But, as with all things, this will require a coordinated effort, and cost money.
By no means do I have the answers, but it seems the conversation around these linked issues is missing the bigger picture.