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The Gateway project in Three Sisters heads to public hearing

A public hearing has been set for March 2 for community feedback on the proposed rezoning, which includes a grocery store, gas station and car wash, and an innovation and technology hub with interest from the University of Saskatchewan as a potential tenant.

CANMORE – Three Sisters Mountain Village has applied for rezoning of lands in the Stewart Creek area to make way for its next commercial and residential development – The Gateway. 

Located next to the overpass to the Trans-Canada Highway, the proposed development includes a grocery store, gas station and innovation hub, as well as requires a new roundabout at the intersection with the Three Sisters Parkway. 

QuantumPlace Developments planning principal Jessica Karpat and managing principal Chris Ollenberger were in front of council on Tuesday (Feb. 2) to go through what is proposed for first reading. The site under consideration is one of the last parcels left to be developed under the Stewart Creek area structure plan (ASP). 

Ollenberger said the commercial aspects of the proposed rezoning, unlike others Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) has undertaken in the past, would be built by and owned by the developer. 

"Three Sisters will do all the construction and maintain ownership of the buildings and do the leasing of it," he said. "It is a little bit of a different shift for Three Sisters and marks, I think, the beginning of some changes we are actively looking forward to." 

The anticipated timeline for commercial build out, should council approve the rezoning, would be five to seven years.

"It is a pretty ambitious program for the timing to get the infrastructure stuff in place," Ollenberger said, adding there are already interested tenants for some of the buildings. 

There are also lands within the area that are proposed for medium density residential. Ollenberger said those lands will follow the traditional approach for TSMV, and once they are subdivided, would be sold to a builder to develop. 

Karpat said existing development in the surrounding residential neighbourhoods can now support a commercial development like The Gateway. 

"With the introduction of commercial uses at The Gateway of Three Sisters, we are providing Stewart Creek and existing Three Sisters residents with access to more sustainable transportation choices," she said. "Walking to local commercial services would be much easier and it introduces a number of services that are not already there." 

Council voted unanimously to approve first reading and set a public hearing for March 2. Councillors and the mayor said they are eager to hear from the community about the proposed rezoning. 

They were particularly excited by the potential for more light manufacturing space for local small businesses. 

"I am looking forward to what the community has to say," said Coun. Karen Marra. "I know there have been discussions around light manufacturing and some businesses have moved because it was not available." 

Karpat provided details about the application for rezoning. In addition to creating a Three Sisters Gateway commercial district and comprehensive residential zoning, discretionary uses for a brewery/distillery, drive-thru and light manufacturing are also proposed. 

"These are all discretionary uses, which allows administration to make sure we are aligned with the intent of the policy with the ASP and the land use district," Karpat said. 

Some clearing has occurred already, said Karpat, and fill from Stewart Creek phase three brought onto the site. 

The conceptual site plan sets out that one and two-storey commercial buildings with retail are proposed at the western end of the site. Moving east, the development concept includes two to four-storey office and light industrial buildings, as well as four-storey mixed use.

That includes up to 200 units of employee housing located on the upper levels of some of the multi-storey mixed use buildings. At the eastern most edge of the subdivision are lands for up to 197 medium density residential units, such as townhomes and apartments. 

There are also plans for a grocery store, gas station and car wash, and an innovation and technology hub. Both the University of Saskatchewan and Innovate Canmore have expressed interest in tenancy as part of the innovation hub. 

An area in the middle of the site has been set aside as a public use district, which could accommodate recreational uses, while there is also an area with a steep slope to be retained as a natural area. 

"This application is in alignment with the Municipal Development Plan," Karpat said. "You can see that the commercial land uses were anticipated in the MDP."

The residential land uses were set out in the Stewart Creek area structure plan. 

Development planner Tracy Woitenko said administration agrees that the rezoning bylaw proposed aligns with prior approved planning documents for the Town of Canmore. 

However, she did point out that the Stewart Creek ASP contains maximum residential unit numbers for this subdivision, but employee housing numbers are not included in those calculations.

Woitenko said a subdivision application for the area in question is moving along the approval process concurrently with the rezoning bylaw changes. 

She said a number of issues relevant to the development of these lands would be addressed at subdivision, including undermining, calculating municipal reserve contributions and defining where property lines and roads will be located. 

Ollenberger went over the proposed "turbo roundabout" design being considered for the intersection that currently has a four-way stop. He said it is meant to improve traffic flows in Three Sister overall, as well as provide a dedicated entranceway to The Gateway. 

"It is a strange name, but it is a common roundabout design in the Netherlands and the U.K.," he said. "Drivers are slowed down and directed within which lane in terms of the destination they are looking for." 

Manager of engineering services Andy Esarte said he is continuing to work with TSMV to find a location for a second fire hall for the community. There was some expectation it would be located in The Gateway area.

"As a condition of approval, we are working with the applicant to find an alternative site in the vicinity that still meets all the requirements of the fire hall including direct access to this intersection and onto the highway," Esarte said. "There are a number of potential sites and it will be part of the process to firm that up."