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Minor amendments made to Smith Creek, Three Sisters Village development plans

A little more than a month after Canmore council adopted the Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek area structure plans, a series of amendments were made to the two plans.
Stewart Creek in Three Sisters Mountain Village in 2022. RMO FILE PHOTO

CANMORE – A little more than a month after Canmore council adopted the Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek area structure plans, a series of amendments have been made ranging from a land acknowledgement and clerical and grammatical fixes.

Town solicitor Adam Driedzic said the amendments were “minor, clerical and technical in nature” and Mayor Sean Krausert said the changes provide grammatical corrections, clarifications or editorial updates to make the documents read better.

“They’re not substantive changes, but we’re able to make them with the revising bylaw provisions in the MGA (Municipal Government Act),” Krausert said.

A staff report stated Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Limited (TSMVPL) made the request for the amendments for the Three Sisters Village area structure plan (ASP) since approval by council in 2021 prior to it ultimately being defeated at third reading.

Amendments for the Smith Creek ASP were reached between TSMVPL and the Town, but didn’t receive resolution from council due to defeat at second reading in 2021.

Council adopted the two ASPs as originally submitted for council consideration in 2021, meaning the two ASPs adopted by council last October were absent of the amendments.

A staff report noted Section 63(2)(g) of the MGA allows for changes to be made without impacting the bylaw if they are clerical, improve expression of law or express more clearly the bylaw. The MGA also outlines the Town’s CAO provides written certification of the revised bylaw.

All seven council members are permitted to take part in the vote, according to the staff report.

“All seven councillors are eligible to participate in the discussions and vote on this matter. This is an application led by administration for rectifications to current bylaws,” it stated. “Revising a bylaw under Section 63 of the MGA does not involve debate on the substantive merits of the bylaw. This matter does not trigger the pecuniary interest rules under the MGA that applied to three councillors on some TSMVPL litigation matters before council.”

A public hearing could have been held, but was ultimately not done by council.

As part of the budget approval Tuesday (Dec. 5), a full-time senior development planner position at a cost of $140,000 will be created to work solely on the two ASPs. The funding is anticipated to come from related development fees associated with the two ASPs.

The Court of Appeal ruled in favour of TSMVPL on Oct. 3 that the Land and Property Rights Tribunal’s (LPRT) decisions from 2022 would need to be adopted by Town council. Council adopted the two ASPs as well as amendments to the Town’s Municipal Development Plan at an Oct. 24 special council meeting.

A pre-application and meeting between Town staff and TSMVPL representatives has already taken place for Three Sisters Village ASP, with a similar process for Smith Creek ASP.

The two sides will work out infrastructure and planning throughout 2024 and into 2025, but construction is anticipated to begin as early as 2025.

A $161 million lawsuit against the Town and the previous council brought forward by TSMVPL remains in place. Thunderstone Quarries also has a $63.5 million lawsuit against the Town since it owns lands in the Smith Creek ASP.

The LPRT ordered the Town to adopt both ASPs in May 2022. The decisions ruled entirely in TSMVPL’s favour and came after 15 days of hearings with more than 110 hours of testimony, more than 5,000 pages of evidence presented, more than 3,000 pages of transcripts and close to a dozen experts being questioned by the five-person tribunal.

The Smith Creek ASP would see an estimated population of 2,200 to 4,500 people and includes about 1,000 and 2,150 residential units. The ASP includes upwards of 75,000-square-feet of light industrial and business space and roughly 125,000-square-feet of retail and commercial space for local services.

The Three Sisters Village ASP could have between 3,000-5,000 residential units – which would depend on the bonus density element – and between 5,500-10,000 visitors and permanent population. It would include up to 602,000-square-feet of retail and business space and about 190,000-square-feet of indoor recreation and entertainment, with 75 hectares of open space and 10 per cent of affordable housing.

An October staff report noted the Town had spent about $580,000 on TSMVPL-related litigation costs. TSMVPL also asked the Town for $129,600 to cover portions of their legal fees, which is permitted under the Alberta Rules of Court.

In evidence presented at the LPRT hearings, TSMVPL stated it had spent more than $11 million in preparing the two ASPs.

The fresh wounds from the ASPs being adopted were further highlighted when minority owner of the land, Blair Richardson, had a full-page paid advertisement on Pg. 2 of the Nov. 2 Outlook. It brought up the Taylor family’s philanthropy record and disappointment about two dozen residents protesting outside the Calgary home of Don Taylor.

However, the advertisement ended by claiming the Town had long attempted to avoid Alberta law and not permit development in the TSMVPL-owned lands. Richardson also highlighted the ongoing civil litigation case for $161 million would continue and possibly “severely impact the financial stability of the Town and resident’s tax obligations.”

TSMVPL later clarified the advertisement was done by Richardson and didn’t represent the views of the company.

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