Thursday, 10 April 2008

Land Use in Crowsnest Pass

Area pictured below is going to be at the epicentre of land use debate in Crowsnest Pass.
Past council was defined by opening the door to development and growth in Crowsnest Pass. Our current council will be defined by how well we prepare for the future of our home and how well we manage and control the growth and development of this beautiful and important corridor through the Rockies. Pass residents, council, and the different local stakeholders have to be very cognizant of the fact many diverse interests have their eye on this last mountain pass through the Rockies in Alberta that is not a national park. It is critical we do things right.

The area pictured has been named the "West Block" by conservation groups. They have determined it is critical for the north south movement of large ungulates and large carnivores. Most Pass residents know it is a significant corridor and important winter range for elk herds. The area is also some of our most desirable developable lands. In an earlier post on Sawback Ridge I talked of how much land would be needed to the accommodate the number of country residential residences that the higher density Sawbuck ridge provided for. One quarter of the flatter open land pictured could have been lost to provide a couple hundred homes. Here, then, is the conundrum. How do we allow for growth yet protect critical wildlife habitat?

Our municipality, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and Community Futures Crowsnest Pass recognized the need to work together in finding answers to that question and commissioned the Miistakis Institute to develop a tool that would assist us in that process. (I am trying to acquire the power point presentation explaining the development of the software to post here) In a nutshell the tool is a compilation of data that is important to development and conservation considerations. It can not be used on a case by case basis as the output is determined by priorities inputted by the operator of the software. It is to be used as a consensus building aid to determine the values the community feels to be important in determining the future of our home.

The municipality has endorsed the creation of an adhoc committee co-chaired by myself and Larry Simpson of the Nature Conservancy to develop, with the help of this mapping tool, a vision or visions for the future development of the Pass. The committee is a very diverse group of individuals. It is comprised of conservationists, environmentalists, land owners, industrialists, and individuals working for affected government agencies. To assist the committee are a number experts in fields relating to development and conservation issues. The committee did meet a number of times last year until logistical problems arose that needed clarifying and correction. With those problems being taken care of our group will be getting back to work in the coming weeks.

The committee's work will be brought to the people of Crowsnest Pass for their consideration and input. This process should enable us to determine a collective vision that will form the basis for a new municipal development plan.

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