Terms of reference for Three Sisters approved

A terms of reference document for a new area structure plan (ASP) regarding the future of Three Sisters Mountain Village (TSMV) will ensure appropriate environmental policies are created and development on land will not take place until the area known as Site 9 is transferred to a conservation society, council decided, Tuesday (Dec. 18).

Canmore council debated the outline for the ASP presented by Three Sisters receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), at length on Tuesday.

Since February 2009, TSMV has been in a court-ordered receivership and accumulated approximately $115 million in debt. The Town approved a framework agreement last month, as well as terms of reference for an environmental impact statement (EIS). Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Canmore approves 4.3 per cent tax increase

Canmore taxpayers will see a 4.3 per cent increase in municipal taxes next year after council unanimously passed its operating budget on Tuesday (Dec. 11).

The budget includes a 13 per cent increase for waste and recycling as well as a 12 per cent utility rate increase per year for the next three years, effective the first of January.

Totaling $39.3 million, next year’s budget includes funds for a full year of operations for projects such as Elevation Place, the Roam regional transit service between Banff and Canmore, the 20-year contract with the RCMP and a stand-alone fire rescue service. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Telus makes claim for cell phone tower in Canmore

A temporary cellphone tower located a half block from Lawrence Grassi Middle School could become permanent, however, the company in charge says the town is in “really good shape” concerning the amount of radio frequency energy it emits.

Two weeks ago, representatives from Telus, the cellphone company that owns the tower, conducted tests in and around the school after concerns were raised from local residents and parents regarding potential health affects.

Using specialized equipment involving a measurement box technicians wear around their head that’s connected to a handheld antenna, Telus said it was able to identify the strength of all radio frequencies in town. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Capital budget worth $14.5 million passed

Canmore council has approved a capital budget worth $14.5 million that includes funds for the Legacy Trail, Community Arts Centre and redevelopment of the pool at the Rec Centre once Elevation Place opens next year.

Following debates at 10 budget committee meetings a few weeks ago involving this year’s budget as well as the five-year capital plan, debt levels, reserves and expected grants, council voted unanimously in favour of the budget on Dec. 5.

There are currently 42 individual capital projects slated to take place next year, which involve $6.5 million for solid waste and utilities and another $8 million for other Town operations. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Mount Norquay lays out plan for summer operations

A plan to open one of the oldest ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies for the summer is now in the public consultation stage, with opponents voicing concerns about its effect on what they see as dwindling grizzly bear habitat in the Bow Valley.

Last Thursday (Nov. 29), Mount Norquay owners rolled out a long-range plan (LRP) for 2012 that includes giving up 42 per cent of its lands in exchange for opening the resort to summer activities such as via ferrata, which involves a steel cable, ladders and holds fixed to rock for users to climb. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Liberal leadership hopeful looking to re-engage Canadians

Supporters of the federal Liberal party are anxiously awaiting the announcement of potential candidates to lead them back into power for the first time since 2006, but one declared candidate is already on the move across the country promoting her policy of creating “one Canada for all Canadians.”

Deborah Coyne, a lawyer, professor and author from Toronto, is one of two federal Liberal leadership candidates who have officially registered for the chance to take on Stephen Harper’s Conservatives or reclaim opposition status from Thomas Mulcair and the New Democratic Party. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Alberta Parks closes popular skiing area due to grizzly and cubs

A popular backcountry skiing area in Kananaskis has been closed indefinitely due to a grizzly bear and her three cubs roaming in the vicinity and potentially denning for the winter.

Last Wednesday (Nov. 21), the Black Prince area in K-Country was closed after Alberta Parks noticed one of its collared grizzlies, bear 94, was in the area with three cubs, looking to set up a den site.

John Paczkowski, park ecologist for Kananaskis Country, confirmed on Tuesday (Nov. 27) the 11-year-old mother is still moving around and the area will remain closed until further notice. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Banff National Park caribou reintroduction in early stages

A plan to reintroduce caribou, now classified as threatened under the Species at Risk Act, in Banff National Park is still in its early stages, however, key figures behind the project are conducting research in hopes of bringing back this iconic animal that once thrived in the western mountains.

Following an avalanche in 2009 that reportedly wiped out the entire remaining herd of caribou in Banff, a partnership was struck between Parks Canada, the B.C. government and the Calgary Zoo to create a captive breeding program.

All three parties are still committed to the project, but things are moving slowly and depend heavily on what facts are uncovered, said John Wilmshurst, acting resource conservation manager for Jasper National Park. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Framework approved for Three Sisters Mountain Village

Unlike last week’s public meeting where a packed council chamber heard plans that could finally move the town’s largest area of undeveloped land out of receivership, about 30 people were present for council’s approval of a framework agreement on Tuesday (Nov. 20) that outlines the process leading up to an eventual decision in spring.

Three Sisters Mountain Village, which is currently managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) through a court-ordered receivership, has accumulated around $115 million in debt, but could be ready for development sometime next year.

The Town’s general manager of municipal infrastructure, Gary Buxton, presented the framework, answered questions from council and stated clearly that the Town is not bound to the contents in the framework and the decision will be made by council following a public process. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Local Wildrose Party team committed to the cause

The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is on its way to becoming the longest running provincial government in Canadian history, however, roughly three and a half years from now Alberta may finally see a changing of the guard if the upstart Wildrose Party continues to attract voters.

Defeated by 699 votes in the Banff-Cochrane constituency while still gaining 37 per cent of the popular vote during the spring election, the local Wildrose team is now prepared to work with official opposition status and focus on attracting Albertans fed up with a lack of conservative politics. Read the full story at the Rocky Mountain Outlook.