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First phase of large Canmore residential development approved

Canmore council unanimously passed the conceptual scheme and land use bylaw amendments for the first phase of the development plan.

CANMORE – Construction in the Three Sisters Village area structure plan (ASP) took another step forward.

Canmore council unanimously passed the conceptual scheme and land use bylaw amendments for the first phase of the development plan at its Tuesday (April 23) special meeting.

The decision, which comes after the Land and Property Rights Tribunal (LPRT) ordered the Town to approve the major development plans, will see the first phase bring between 700-1,075 residential units.

“Both sides have worked diligently that the concerns are met and that we have a strong application that we can bring towards subdivision (approval),” said Harry Shnider, a senior development planner with the Town.

The first builds are not expected to be completed until 2026, but initial infrastructure planning will be ongoing and work likely beginning next year.

The plan includes a bonus density toolkit, which allows more residential units to be built with more affordable housing coming with it. The plan mandates a minimum 10 per cent affordable housing, but could increase to as much as 20 per cent. Provincial legislation doesn’t permit a municipality to require affordable housing.

“Density bonuses shall facilitate the advancement of Town policy and goals that are beyond a municipality’s ability to require through bylaw,” stated a staff report. “Should one development phase as identified within the ASP not use its maximum density permitted, the additional density shall be transferred to other phases covered by this overlay provided that the maximum number of residential units does not exceed 5,000 within the Three Sisters Village [ASP] as a whole.”

The land will be parcelled off to potential developers to purchase.

The first phase will include about 30 per cent open space such as an off-leash dog park, playgrounds, a bike pump track and additions to Canmore’s trail network. It totals 29.1 hectares in the northeast part of the ASP, with townhomes, stacked townhomes, apartment buildings and tourist homes.

The Three Sisters Village ASP will have five more phases, including a hotel district, innovation district and village centre. The plan will be largely residential based, but include no single-family homes.

The Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek ASPs will include residential, commercial and light industrial space as well as parks, playgrounds and bring Canmore to its long-planned population of about 30,000 people.

According to the conceptual scheme, the first phase will have an estimated population of 1,425 to 2,133, depending on the density. The density is anticipated to be between 50-110 units per hectare.

The conceptual scheme was brought to council outside the 90-day mandate in the 1992 Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) decision – taking about 115 days – but Shnider noted the Town and Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Limited (TSMVPL) worked together to ensure it was consistent with the provincial board’s ruling and conformed with Section 619 of the Municipal Government Act.

Shnider added it was the first conceptual scheme for the Town, which can also be known as outline plans in larger urban areas. The conceptual scheme provides additional details between the ASP and subdivision stages.

“It really allows large issues to be looked at and discussed prior to a subdivision application being consider,” he said. “It’s not a statutory plan, it’s something that’s adopted by motion of council by majority vote.”

The approval of the conceptual scheme will have TSMVPL proceed with subdivision application and development permits.

The conceptual scheme was submitted Dec. 20, 2023, with studies examining undermining, transportation, water and sanitary, wildlife monitoring and steep creek hazard analysis and mitigation.

“Administration are satisfied that the [conceptual scheme] and the supporting studies are generally consistent with the relevant policies and plans in the ASP.”

The wildlife fence will be built concurrently with construction of the first phase and go around the ASP area. It will go through Stewart Creek golf course, to its maintenance compound and south through Stewart Creek phase three, then around the eastern boundary and connect to existing highway fencing.

Once the wildlife underpass under the Trans-Canada Highway is completed and applications for Smith Creek ASP are approved, the fence will continue for that development.

“The gate and fence allow the province to seasonally close some trails and post signage and it helps with their enforcement,” said Chris Ollenberger, managing principal of QuantumPlace Developments and director of strategy and development for TSMVPL.

A committee with the province, TSMVPL and the Town will be struck to focus on maintenance for the wildlife fence, Shnider said.

The Town will also have a wildlife fence constructed by the province next year to connect existing fencing from Banff National Park’s east gate to the Bow River bridge.

TSMVPL has continued to do wildlife monitoring, following the Monitoring and Adaptive Management Plan that’s been accepted by the province, to see how wildlife react or are impacted by the fence.

“We believe it identifies how the province, the Town and Three Sisters will be working together to make sure wildlife movement is sustained in the corridor,” said Jessica Karpat, planning principal for QuantumPlace Developments and director of planning and community liaison for TSMVPL.

Council voted against the Village and Smith Creek ASPs in 2021. However, after TSMVPL appealed the decisions and the cases were heard by the LPRT, the Town was ordered to adopt both plans in 2022.

The Town appealed the decision, which was heard by the Court of Appeal in 2023 but it was denied and the tribunal’s rulings were found to be legal.

Canmore council adopted both ASPs last October.

Though polarizing in the community, both the tribunal and Court of Appeal found the ASPs were legal and followed the 1992 NRCB decision.

All future land use bylaw and Municipal Development Plan amendments will not need to go through a public hearing since council’s legally required to approve plans that align with the 1992 NRCB decision.

The Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation filed a court application late in 2023 against the Town and Alberta’s Ministries of Municipal Affairs and Indigenous Relations to void the bylaws that led to the ASPs being adopted. TSMVPL has asked to be an intervenor, but has yet to hear a decision from the courts.

The Îyârhe Nakoda First Nation and Bow Valley Engage also asked the Alberta government to complete a new environmental assessment for TSMVPL’s lands, but it was denied due to it aligning with the 1992 NRCB decision and the province not having jurisdiction.

Couns. Joanna McCallum, Jeff Hilstad and Karen Marra are named in an ongoing civil suit from TSMVPL and have recused themselves from prior TSMVPL-related issues on the two ASPs.

The staff report, however, noted since the conceptual scheme and land use bylaw amendments are different from the lawsuit, they were able to vote.

“A provincial body has made a decision and that’s actually quite a normal thing for the province to determine certain things and other things decided by the municipality,” said Mayor Sean Krausert. “When something is aligned with that decision by a provincial body, then the municipality would follow suit because you can’t have two decision-makers on the same matter.

“Section 619 is an exception to our usual rules in which we do not have discretion around things that are aligned, so that is one thing we keep in mind that there’s an obligation for the Town to meet our legal obligations we have to vote accordingly.”


  • 29.1 hectares (25.27 hectares for developable land use)
  • 11.15 hectares for residential (44.1 per cent of developable land use)
  • 6.53 hectares for municipal reserve (25.8 per cent of developable land use)
  • 3.8 hectares for environmental reserve
  • 3.42 hectares for roads (13.6 per cent of developable land use)
  • 2.26 hectares for tourist homes (8.9 per cent of developable land use)
  • 1.91 hectares for public utility lots (7.6 per cent of developable land use)


  • 3,000-5,000 residential units
  • 5,500-10,000 visitor and permanent population
  • 75 hectares of open space
  • 602,000 square feet of retail and business space
  • 190,000 square feet of indoor recreation and entertainment space


  • 1,000-2,150 residential units
  • 2,200-4,500 population
  • Up to 75,000-square-feet of light industrial and business space
  • Roughly 125,000 square feet of retail and commercial space
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