SSRP: Crowsnest Pass

Photo of Crowsnest Lake

Crownest Lake in the Crowsnest Pass

Community conversations to gather feedback on the Regional Advisory Council’s advice to government on the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan have entered their final week.

Tuesday’s session was held in the picturesque town of Blairmore, the principle commercial centre in the Crowsnest Pass that serves the Village of Bellevue, the Town of Coleman, Village of Frank, and Improvement District No. 5.

Although the Crowsnest area is well-known for its rich coal mining and railroad history, including the tragic events of Frank Slide, other perhaps lesser-known characters have emerged from these hills. Emil “Emperor Pic” Picariello was a notorious rum-runner during Prohibition times, later hanged for his crimes. Crowsnest Pass was also the site of the last train robbery in Canada, in 1920, and elected Alberta’s first female mayor, Clemence Jepson, in 1963.

The turnout was excellent and participants shared a wide variety of views.  Here’s a summary of what they had to say.

Blairmore / Crowsnest Pass

In attendance: 81

Vision and principles

Comments were mostly supportive, they see it as positive and high level, however, they felt the vision and principles needed:

  • Greater emphasis of growth and balance
  • Recognition of need for regional limits for environment, development and population growth
  • More population acknowledgement – no references to fact that 80 per cent of population is in Calgary and they may end up with disproportionate voice on sub-regional concerns
  • More accommodation for all users – feel mixed use and multiple use is possible
  • More innovation in use of economic tools and environmental goods and services tools when building plans
  • Less emphasis on economy and more on water, environment, climate change
  • More teeth for enforcement – must commit to management and enforcement
  • Vision and principles don’t anticipate potential for new land uses that may be coming in 50 years
  • Recognition of the sub-regional differences

Healthy economy

  • Tourism can’t be at expense of everything else
  • Use irrigation for economic agricultural use, not just haymaking
  • Need to understand what’s realistic in water supply to ensure it can sustain growth
  • Balance between tourism and economic growth is difficult
  • Missing value of protecting wildlife zones
  • Land-use needs to densify and growth needs to be controlled
  • Water is key to existence of agriculture, not just to population growth
  • Need to shift CrowsnestPass area away from resources and towards tourism
  • Grazing isn’t addressed enough
  • Headwater protection trumps forestry needs
  • Forestry helps manage healthy forests and FireSmart
  • Forestry helps local economy – like shops, construction, local infrastructure, businesses
  • Biggest conflicts between urban and rural is in recreation uses
  • Multi-use corridors minimize linear disturbance

Healthy ecosystems

  • Regional maps need to include aquifers, national and provincial parks
  • Need more clarity on who will do it, how it will be done, and where the money to fund the work will come from
  • More local studies/research required
  • Public lands should be kept public – not for unmanaged grazing
  • Grasslands are especially at risk
  • Grazing needs more management and enforcement
  • Need to confine cattle roaming and keep them out of ecologically sensitive areas
  • Headwater protection requires agricultural animals to be kept out of those areas
  • Need further definition for conservation management
  • Concern that Conservation Management Areas are too vague
  • Need to ensure money in government budget to buy lands for conservation purposes
  • Need to ensure water used more efficiently
  • Need to better manage downstream effects on water quality
  • Need water metres in every single community to increase appreciation for and responsible use of water
  • Needs much more emphasis on climate change
  • How can SSRP manage conflicting objectives between economy and ecology

Healthy communities

  • No recognition between healthy people and healthy economies
  • Whole sectors not acknowledged, i.e., health
  • Travel and tourism don’t show depressed areas
  • “Heritage viewscape” from Municipal District should be included in plan
  • Need new infrastructure to attract/retain tourism, residents, industry, youth
  • Public safety needs to be included
  • Support scenic designations e.g. Cowboy Trail, world heritage sites, Frank Slide, medicine wheels
  • Random camping too uncontrolled
  • Community demographics changing – need to attract youth and families
  • Airport is good community investment
  • Need bigger vision for trails – interconnect with BC, K-country, add bike trails
  • Need to establish common ground between Calgary and other communities
  • No increase in motorized recreation
  • Need more employment opportunities to attract new people
  • Old railroad tracks should be used as access to recreation

Land-use direction and management intent

  • Detailed map of drainage system is required
  • Worried that land-use classification will change again
  • Scenic designation is missing
  • Forestry is government-controlled in this area and management issues are often conflicting
  • User-pay systems must go back to local area for specific sub-regional uses
  • Need more public education on all issues
  • Oil and gas should not have access over other uses regardless of who owns the land
  • Consideration of thresholds in mixed use areas – there has to be checks and balances
  • Source water and headwater protection is cornerstone – must always be considered
  • Diversity in markets is important for land-use classification
  • Better balance of land use for all users

There are three more opportunities to get involved in the community conversations.  If you’re unable to attend the sessions in person, we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to provide feedback through the online workbook.

Upcoming sessions

Wednesday, December 5

Medicine Hat
Medicine Hat Lodge
1051 Ross Glen Drive SE

Foremost
Foremost Community Hall
802 – 1 Avenue W

Thursday, December 6
Lethbridge
Coast Lethbridge Hotel
526 Magrath Drive S

2 thoughts on “SSRP: Crowsnest Pass

  1. I attended the Stakeholder Session in Blairmore. What is reported in this blog entry doesn’t seem to jibe with what I thought I heard at the session. To check if it was just me, I talked with a number of other folks who were there, and they’re scratching their heads as well. Two of the dominant themes were opposition to commercial clear-cut logging in the region, and support for protecting the Castle. The comments about logging are pretty wishy-washy, and the Castle isn’t mentioned at all. I hope the public input isn’t being massaged to arrive at a predetermined outcome.

    • Hi Gordon, thank you for your comment.

      The blog summaries are a snapshot of the comments posted to the sticky boards. This was in no way meant to be a comprehensive list of what was said; rather, it was an overview of themes to provide those who weren’t in attendance a broad perspective of what was discussed.

      The specific information captured during the session will be used in its entirety and will help inform the draft South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. A ‘what we heard’ document is expected to be posted on http://www.landuse.alberta.ca early in the new year.

      Keep an eye on the website, this blog and our twitter account (@aenv_srd) for the announcement.

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