CANMORE – Residents wanting to give their thoughts, opinions and views on the future of the Palliser lands will have their chance.
The Town of Canmore will look for public feedback on the Palliser area structure plan (ASP), which was originally passed by council in 2000, and is now being reviewed and updated for what has long been thought of as the Holy Grail for helping housing in the community.
“We’re really looking forward to hearing from the public. We have developed a land use concept for those lands, describing the types of mix of uses we would envision,” said Lauren Miller, the Town’s manager of planning and development. “We’re looking forward to getting people’s feedback to see if we’re hitting the mark or maybe we need to make some additions, but we’re working towards a truly mixed-use neighbourhood with a variety of housing choices.
“Housing is a critical issue in our community and nobody is naïve or unaware of the situation. It’s really an impactful opportunity for the Town to continue to address that housing challenge because the amount of land could yield a significant amount of units at all parts of the housing spectrum.”
The public engagement period began March 13 and will run until March 31, with people able to submit feedback online but also attend three in-person sessions. The feedback then will be reviewed and a final report will return to council before the end of the year.
The update looks to address a diversity of both attainable and affordable housing for residents, the creation of a mixed-use and walkable neighbourhood and new opportunities for both the Town of Canmore and Canmore Community Housing (CCH).
The ongoing work would potentially see lands around the new fire hall and to the northwest of the Blakiston building at 300 Palliser Lane – which are part of the Silvertip ASP – added into the Palliser ASP. The total area comprises roughly 16 hectares.
Miller said a new ASP would offer a chance to “create a more comprehensive vision by bringing those lands under one ASP".
A conceptual land use concept of mixed-use space, open space, residential between three and six storeys as well as expanded Roam transit has also been established, but can be amended depending on public feedback for needs in the community.
“I really encourage people to participate," said Miller. "It’s really important for the public to have an opportunity to share with us what they’d like to see now because it will inform a number of subsequent decisions in the future."
During the 2022 budget, Town council approved a specific public policy planner position to work on both the Palliser ASP and the downtown are redevelopment plan.
Both plans have been highlighted as a priority, but cost, staff time and shortages, as well as responding to active planning submissions continually led to the two being pushed back.
The area still has several challenges with existing communications and high-pressure gas lines, and flood risk mitigation. Working with Alberta Transportation needs to also take place.
A much-discussed pedestrian overpass or underpass to connect the Palliser lands to Teepee Town has also been shown to Canmore council, but no plans have been submitted for consideration.
When the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games were being discussed for a bid, part of the lands would’ve had a potential athletes’ village with it reverting to Town housing.
The Palliser lands run adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway and have existing residential development. However, much of the land remains undeveloped.
The Town and the province have also had several talks about provincially-owned land being transferred to the Town. Recent talks have shown promise after a Feb. 1 letter from the Town to discuss two parcels of land combining 2.8 hectares led to meetings between the municipality and the province. The two parcels of land are owned by the Alberta Seniors Housing Corporation. Other parts of the area are owned by Canmore Community Housing and the Town.
The proposed Silvertip gondola, which will go to the Natural Resources Conservation Board to determine if it is in the public interest of Alberta, proposes a Palliser base station and employee housing on those lands.
Miller said the intent is to return to council for a decision on the Palliser ASP this year, which would allow a further public hearing for feedback.
She added the Town hopes to hear from people from all portions of the community including long-term and new residents, people struggling with housing and people from all employment sectors.
“It would be good for us to understand the elements associated with that so we can ensure that the vision for this area is really an inclusive one and attempts to help individuals at all ends of the housing spectrum," she said. "We need housing for everybody.”
The in-person forums will take place March 20 from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Elevation Place, March 22 at the Canmore Recreation Centre from 3:30-6:30 p.m. and March 23 at the Blakiston common room at 300 Palliser Lane from 5-7 p.m.
For the online page, visit: www.mycanmore.ca/palliserasp.