The receiver in charge of Three Sisters Mountain Village has decided to walk away from pursuing an area structure plan with the Town of Canmore.
PricewaterhouseCoopers was pursuing the ASP and development process up until this spring when a public hearing on the high level planning document for the development was cancelled at its request.
As of Monday (June 17) the receiver had filed a motion in the Court of Queen’s Bench to instead focus efforts on marketing and selling the 1,495-acre property on an “as-is where-is basis.”
“The receiver has concluded that notwithstanding the significant investment in time, resources and expenses dedicated to finalizing municipal approvals, there is no value at the present time to continue with the municipal approvals process and the receiver has determined that the most prudent and commercially reasonable course of action would be to immediately undertake a process of selecting a suitable real estate firm to market the 1,495 acres of Three Sisters lands,” wrote PwC in its report submitted to the court.
Mayor John Borrowman said he is disappointed PwC has decided to no longer work with the municipality on planning the future of the development.
“I thought we would find a mutually agreeable plan to develop the valley that would allow the land owner to realize profit on the land and allow the community to feel good about what is happening in the sense of protecting the environment, but also protecting the vision our residents have for the valley,” Borrowman said on Wednesday (June 19). “It is a bit of a setback and we don’t know what is going to happen next, there are all sorts of possible scenarios and we will play the waiting game for a little while.”
The ASP and the other documentation PWC prepared during the process, including a Sustainability Screening Report and Environmental Impact Statement, will remain with the Town and can be reactivated in the future.
“The Town agreed to hold the ASP application in abeyance more or less and the rationale for that is that if they are able to find a buyer for the land that wants to reactivate the ASP then they can come to the town and we will reactivate the process,” Borrowman said.
In the report filed with the court explaining the change in focus, PWC detailed the process it went through with council and administration to bring forward the ASP.
When in April administration recommended council not give the document first reading and instead go straight to public hearing, PWC wrote it “was shocked and disappointed” by the report.
A subsequent meeting between PWC and the Town resulted in administration expressing concerns with the affect on wildlife of the development of lands that were adjacent to the proposed wildlife corridor and further monitoring of the corridor would be required. The receiver indicated that was the first time those concerns were expressed and took issue with approximate $10 million in real estate value it would lose by reducing its developable land by 287 acres.
Yellowstone to Yukon president Karsten Heuer said he is grateful through dealing with PWC council has recognized it is not just about development, but providing for wildlife movement through that critical area.
Heuer said he is surprised by PWC’s submission to the courts regarding concerns council and administration expressed about uses adjacent to wildlife corridors. He said these issues with the TSMV lands have been around for a long time.
“All the sensitivities in terms of wildlife movement were articulated from the start and it was like it fell on deaf ears and it came to this impasse,” he said. “Huge amounts of money and effort were wasted on it in the process and I think somebody should be accountable for that.”
PWC represents HSBC Canada, the bank that put up the loan for East West Partners to purchase TSMV in 2006. Since PWC became the receiver, it has spent $10.8 million on the process and asked for an additional $1.7 million this week from the courts to continue.
Heuer said he would like to see the residents of Canmore take steps to acquire the lands and ensure its development is done in a way that recognizes the importance of wildlife movement in the area.
“As a community we have a pretty firm idea on how we would like to see parts of that land developed and on how we would like to see parts of that land never develop, so if we have that clear vision maybe we should try to become the stewards of that place and that may mean collectively coming together to raise the money to do that,” he said.