Skip to content

Kananaskis I.D. byelection candidates pledge to prioritize residents, environment

Kananaskis residents to vote for one of two KID council candidates in upcoming byelection March 28.

KANANASKIS COUNTRY – Two contenders vying for a vacant seat on Kananaskis Improvement District (KID) council in a March-end byelection each aim to be a voice for restoring equilibrium to the busy tourist haven.

Candidates Cody English and Ken Hoover are running to represent non-commercial residents and ratepayers on similar motivations – to support the necessity of infrastructure improvements to support a growing visitor population, while ensuring that the needs of residents remain a top priority, and championing sustainable tourism and community-driven projects that are of benefit to all.

“I want to make sure that KID is not just working for the province to advance tourism. The province is beating tourism, tourism, tourism in Kananaskis to death,” said Hoover. “But we have to have balance, balance, balance. We have to be gentle, we have to be mindful of our footprint and we have to have a balance between that footprint and the dollar signs.”

Hoover has lived in Kananaskis for 10 years, primarily working in the roads sector, and calls the Pocaterra community home. English has lived in the valley for nine months and is the chief engineer at Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, where he has staff accommodation.

Of different backgrounds, both are keenly aware of challenges with the increasing number of visitors, lack of housing and staff retention issues, and concerns for wildlife and environmental integrity. 

“That all ties in together,” said English. “With an increase in tourism, we want to preserve our nature, but we also have to make sure that our services are able to handle that increasing number of visitors. More tourism means more call-outs for Kananaskis Emergency Services and we have to make sure we have adequate staffing and infrastructure to support that.”

English said he believes his background in hospitality, firefighting and being an avid outdoorsman lends itself well to the needs of the Kananaskis Valley. 

Hoover, an ally of Îyârhe Nakoda First Nation elders and community members, has worked closely with the area’s traditional territory holders to advocate for Indigenous interests and truth and reconciliation.

In 2023, he worked alongside Chiniki First Nation elder Una Wesley to appeal a proposed glamping development with the Land and Property Rights Tribunal (LPRT) that was first approved by KID’s Subdivision and Development Authority. The LPRT ultimately approved the 20-unit development situated across Highway 40, opposite the Kananaskis Country Golf Course, despite concerns of it being built on ancestral hunting grounds and within a natural wildlife corridor for elk, grizzly bears and other native species within the Evan-Thomas drainage in the Kananaskis Public Land Use Zone. 

The LPRT found the project developer, Ridgeback Glamping Inc., sufficiently addressed potential impacts to bear habitat and wildlife migration, and that cultural concerns could not be addressed in the development permit. 

Hoover didn’t mince words at this decision, calling the LPRT “cannon fodder for whatever the government wants to do.”

He said Îyârhe Nakoda officials’ attempted appeal of Fortress Mountain Holding Ltd.’s application to obtain a water licence to draw water from Fortress Mountain in 2020 was treated much the same. Alberta’s Environmental Appeals Board decided against hearing the Nation’s appeal.

“That’s why I’m trying to get on council because we need these checks and balances and not just the government saying ‘we’re doing this and we’re doing that, and tourism dollars here and tourism dollars there,’” Hoover said.

“That can come at a cost, where after doing all that, then you are actually damaging the tourism business and relationships more than you are helping.”

He said Kananaskis residents, too, get “railroaded” by development decisions and there is a lack of support for services supporting resident needs. He vowed that, if elected to KID council, he would write a weekly newsletter to keep residents and interested parties informed of happenings in Kananaskis and decisions made by council and the province.

English agreed that he believes residents often aren’t heard or informed of what’s happening in their own community.

“I saw the need for a little bit of an uplift on our residential platform, as well as for other needed facilities in areas such as transportation. That’s mainly my reason for running is to be an advocate for all residents and businesses in the area,” he said.

The byelection is for the KID ward representing non-commercial residents and ratepayers. There are about 250 people living in KID, not including the area’s shadow population in the summer. 

English said the lack of housing in Kananaskis, which has a need-to-reside policy, along with its remote location, spotty telecommunications access, and lack of accessibility with no public transit “prohibits and limits” the pool of employees to staff businesses in the area.

“If you don’t have a vehicle it becomes very difficult to live and work here, especially with transportation options being next to nothing as it is. It makes it very difficult for us opening this place up to every breath of life in Cochrane, Canmore, Calgary.”

Both candidates spoke in support of public transit, an initiative KID is working toward with the MD of Bighorn. A feasibility study to determine where buses could be launched, potential routes and service times is ongoing and a survey is currently circulating among residents and visitors to the areas. 

“I think that survey is going to speak for itself,” said English. “I believe it’s going to be pretty eye-opening once the results of that survey come out in favour of public transportation in the area.”

Hoover said if he’s elected, he also plans to advocate for funds from the Kananaskis Conservation Pass to support creating a community hall or other communal space, which the area currently doesn’t have for residents. 

“We have nowhere to have an event. If you want to use a gym, you have to travel to Canmore. There’s an old diner building in Pocaterra and it’s a beautiful building,” said Hoover. “I asked a government official years ago if we could turn that into a community space and was told ‘no’ because it was going to be demolished, but it hasn’t and it’s just a glorified storage unit.”

English said living in staff accommodations, he has unique insight into the residents and how KID council could help improve resident life within the valley, including emergency evacuation plans. He praised Kananaskis Emergency Services’ work in this area, but said there is tangible worry around wildfire season after last year’s unprecedented wildfires across the province and what has been a drier than average winter. 

“We’re already world-class in how we’re dealing with everything here with our emergency services and FireSmart program, but there’s always room for improvement and I think I’d have a good mindset in improving on our processes and keeping all of our residents here safe,” he said.

Nominations for the byelection closed Feb. 29 and voting will take place March 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with polls set up at the Kananaskis Emergency Services Centre. Advanced voting is scheduled for March 26 and polls will be open from 2 to 6:30 p.m. at the Kananaskis Village Centre, near the post office.

More voting information can be found at:

The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. The position covers Îyârhe (Stoney) Nakoda First Nation and Kananaskis Country.

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