Skip to content

Palliser housing aims to be 'a place of hope'

“I’m really happy to see that council has chosen through this proposed ASP to try to control our future and lead by example in this regard and outstretch to business and non-profit and everyone else and say ‘let’s build this together’."

CANMORE – A much and long discussed area structure plan in the Palliser Trail area that could add more than 1,000 affordable housing units will head to a public hearing.

Canmore council gave first reading to the Town-led ASP on Tuesday (Sept. 5) – which if approved – estimates upwards of 1,300 new homes being added to the community.

“I’m really happy to see that council has chosen through this proposed ASP to try to control our future and lead by example in this regard and outstretch to business and non-profit and everyone else and say ‘let’s build this together’,” said Coun. Joanna McCallum.

The plan outlines a 10- to 20-year process for full buildout, which council members noted was one of the most important plans in the Town’s history.

Coun. Jeff Mah said many community members see the Palliser area as “a place of hope”, while Coun. Wade Graham said it was a “great moment [for] our council.”

“We can’t get those shovels in the ground soon enough,” Graham said. “This is hope for a lot of our community and I look forward in partnering with industry and I look forward to seeing what CCH (Canmore Community Housing) can do in the next little while.”

Mayor Sean Krausert added he was “immensely proud” one of council’s first steps early in its term was to approve a specific planning position to work on both the Palliser Trail ASP and the Town Centre area redevelopment plan.

“This is a proud moment for this council and our community that we can now put this to the public for a public hearing and continue to expedite this matter,” he said.

The lands are split between the province, Town of Canmore and CCH, which allows the Town to move more quickly in potentially adopting plans.

The aim of the plan is to create a mixed-use walkable neighbourhood as well as establish housing opportunities to align with CCH’s goals, creat diverse and affordable housing and meet council’s strategic plan and priorities of the community.

The original Palliser Trail ASP was adopted in 2000, with its refresh proposing to have at least 75 per cent of the residential units be non-market affordable housing as outlined in the Town’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP).

The proposal has high-density commercial and residential between three and six storeys, with past public engagement expressing concerns for building height and density.

The ASP could potentially add new civic areas, increase the Town’s multi-modal transit network, expand public transit, add a pedestrian crossing above or under the Trans-Canada Highway and see plazas, gathering places, park space and expansion of the protected wildlife corridor area.

Lauren Miller, the Town’s manager of planning and development, called first reading “an important day for housing in our community.”

“Before you is a plan that addresses the most critical issue facing our community … which is housing,” she said, adding it was the first time the Town has brought forward an ASP itself.

She noted some language specifically in the ASP has 'should, shalls and wills' as opposed to 'encourage or support' since the latter allows the private sector to have flexibility to react to market demand.

“That is intentional. This is the first time the Town has been in the driver’s seat and can really set the tone for the development community as well as members of the public to our commitment for housing for members of our community,” Miller said, highlighting with the exception of an engineering consultant in assessing capacity in Palliser the ASP was entirely completed by Town staff.

“It’s a demonstration of what Town staff are capable of doing when given the resources necessary in order to do their jobs effectively for council and the community.”

All new development would be encouraged to be near net-zero, solar and EV-ready. There would also be no short-term rentals allowed in the ASP area.

Flood mitigation at Stoneworks Creek still has to be completed to minimize potential flood risk on portions of the lands and would not be able to be completed until the Cougar Creek flood mitigation project is finished, but development on much of the Palliser lands can move ahead.

However, pre-construction is underway, with construction expected to start next year. The estimated completion is in the next two years.

The proposed Silvertip gondola, which is in the environmental impact assessment phase with the province, proposes a Palliser base station and employee housing in the area.

Council also gave second and third readings following a public hearing to amendments that adjusted the Silvertip ASP to have one parcel of land added to the ASP and another included in the Palliser Trail ASP.

The parcel to be included in the Silvertip ASP is at the intersection of Silvertip and Palliser trails, which has Basecamp’s MTN House. The area to potentially be added to the Palliser Trail ASP is undeveloped and is owned by CCH “with the long-term intention of utilizing the site for residential uses,” according to a staff report.

The Silvertip ASP was adopted by council in 2001 and previously updated in 2007. The lands were part of the Hyatt Regency Canmore Master Plan that was adopted in 1990.

The two plans have previously been considered a priority, but staff time and shortages, costs and responding to active planning submissions have led to both being pushed back.

The Palliser lands had previously been discussed as potentially being an athletes' village during the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games bid and then having it return to Town housing.

The Palliser lands have existing apartments on them, but the remaining undeveloped lands are owned by the province, CCH and the Town.

Prior to the provincial election, the province committed to gifting 2.3 hectares of land valued at more than $8.7 million once a plan is brought forward for development.

Coun. Karen Marra said it had been “a long time coming,” but believed “the community will embrace this.”

A public engagement process was undertaken in March for three weeks, which was analyzed by Town staff and used to update the ASP.

The online component had 1,636 participants and 199 submissions as well as two in-person events and an open house that had about 90 people attend.

“There’s definitely some bold steps being taken and there will be some growing pains for some people,” said Coun. Jeff Hilstad. “I’m sure we’ll hear some great things and not-so-great things at the public hearing. … I look forward to that feedback from the public.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks