This site is pricavate land, and a substantially sized 8.64 ha (21 ac) parcel with a history of grazing. By comparison, this land area is about 1/3 the size of Spring Creek Mountain Village.
The land is a fire-disturbed landscape currently vegetated with native species that comprise of four distinct ecosystem types:
Coniferous trees dominated by mature spruce trees.
Low Shrub-grass primarily will and grassy species indicative of a burned area.
Tall shrub dominated by regenerating balsam poplar and willow.
Shrubby swamp wetland predominately dry, forested swamp dominated by willow and balsam poplar. The Concept completely avoids the shrubby swamp wetland.
Policeman's Creek and Spring Creek converge on the site in the Northeastern section of the land. The Proposed Concept completely avoids the shrubby swamp.
Wildlife Coridors & Habitat Patches
Studies referenced by the BCEAG Report updated in 2012 determined that some of the SCLHP is compromised, too small to provide the intended habitat, and not functioning as intended. While the SCLHP does not meet the criteria for a local habitat patch, it does provide habitat for species that have adapted to human use, for example, deer, coyote, or elk. The SCLHP does not provide sufficient intact habitat in for wildlife to rest or feed without human disturbance. This condition was acknowledged by the BCEAG “The Bow Corridor Ecosystem Advisory Group note that even if it were completely intact, the SCHLP is not large enough to meet the minimum standards set for a functional habitat patch.”
Since its establishment in 2009, habitat in the SCLHP has been fragmented and continues to be disturbed by frequent and ongoing incursions by humans. People are walking and hiking, dogs are on and off leash, large trucks are travelling on roads that disect the local patch from the larger regional habitat patch (in this instance, the Bow Flats Habitat Patch) to and from the Canmore Waste Transfer Station, and there is noise associated with a helicopter flight path, Highway 1 and 1A, and CP Rail. The SCLHP has also been fragmented by roads, trails, and houses.
In total, the Conceptual Land Use Plan will only disturb 0.5 percent of the SCLHP for buildings, roads and driveways. Eighty-nine (89) percent of the total land area will be stewarded by the current landowners. 1.3
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Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
The Proposed Concept and the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was reviewed by a third-party consultant who agreed to the findings of the EIS. The Proposed Concept presented has been revised multiple times to optimize its orientation to reduce wildlife conflict. The EIS adheres to the town of Canmore EIS Policy:
The Terms of Reference was developed by a third-party consultant contracted by the town of Canmore. The EIS results were agreed to by this third-party.
The purpose of the EIS is to inform the Town’s decision-making authorities about the Conceptual Land Use Plan and describe how the Plan intersects with key biophysical resources.
The EIS was developed in accordance with a Terms of Reference that set the scope of the EIS and identified the biophysical resources that were to be assessed for the project. The EIS evaluated the Proposed Concept in the context of eight biophysical resources and assessed the potential impacts on these resources
The purpose of the EIS is to provide information to the town of Canmore Council to make an informed decision on the proposed land use plan. In summary, the EIS:
Describes the proposed new land use.
Describes the existing environmental conditions and features on and surrounding the property.
Identifies significant natural ecological features. Describe potential impacts of the project, prior to mitigation.
Recommends measures to avoid or reduce these impacts and identify residual impacts and their significance after the implementation of proposed mitigation.
Recommends if any further studies or monitoring is to be undertaken through the course of mitigation implementation.
Discusses cumulative effects in reference to existing, approved, and future developments in the area.
Identifies additional mitigation measures to minimize impacts on ecosystem components and cumulative effects.
The development will have a small impact on a very small, concentrated portion of the site at the northern periphery of the parcel. The sensitive and thoughtful selection of building locations and the amount of development were guided and shaped by the outcomes, findings, and recommendations of the EIS. The project team accepts that some environmental effect may occur because of the project. None of the effects are inconsistent with “normal” developments, and all were rated either negligible or low. The EIS determined that the Proposed Concept had a negligible (no chang to biophysical) impact on six biophysical resources (soils/terrain, fish/fish habitat, water quality/hydrology, land resources use, air quality and cultural resources) and a negligible or low impact (effects are within understood range) on two biophysical resources (vegetation/ecosystems and wildlife/wildlife habitat).
“The potential effects of the proposed development are predictable and mitigative measures are expected to avoid and reduce those effects.”
Residual Effects in the EIS
Soils and Terrain
Negligible residual impacts expected with mitigation.
Vegetation and Wetlands
Low residual impacts due to a reduction in native vegetation cover and potential spread of weeds.
Wildlife and Wildlife Habitat
Low to Negligible from alteration of habitat and more human activity.
Negligible and long-term residual impacts from habitat loss adjacent to and within SCLHP. The TSMV may result in movement deflections of wildlife caused by wildlife exclusion fencing.
Negligible effects are anticipated because wildlife is habituated to presence of people, the Conceptual Plan considers wildlife movement and human-conflict, and the majority of the Project Area will remain in a natural state.
Mitigation and Offsets
Mitigation measures have been proposed to Avoid, Reduce, Restore and Offset for all potential effects. The Proposed Concept will protect environmentally sensitive habitat such as the shrubby swamp and will include the dedication of Environmental Reserves Easements which will be identified in collaboration with the town of Canmore. Ultimately, the project is anticipated to result in a new positive benefit once offsetting is complete. The number of trees removed have been quantified and will be offset. The Concept has created a balance between wildfire risk and maintenance of aesthetic quality. The Steep Creek hazard is avoided because no proposed structures will be located within the hazard area.
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Permanent disturbance of 2.0 acres within the proposed project footprint in the SCHLP will be offset by improvement to habitat in other areas of equal amount. Trees will be planted in low shrub areas on the southern section of the site equal to the proposed footprint. Riparian areas will be improved by planting native species and establishing an Environmental Reserve Easement amounting to 3.5 acres.
Wildlife habitat loss will be offset with improvement to vegetation habitat. Improving vegetation habitat will provide better shelter and cover for wildlife. The presence of owners will dissuade public users from using the site for dog walking and trail use. The Proposed Concept concentrates new users to a contained area and results in a net reduction of human activity after construction is complete. Wildlife habitat loss will be offset with an Environmental Reserve Easement of 3.5 acres protecting wildlife from human activity. Any fencing will meet the recommended standard for wildlife use.
The small amount of residential development proposed will pursue the goals of Council’s Climate Action Plan to further provide mitigative offsets. Offsetting in this case will improve the land from its current baseline condition. Offsetting will also improve climate resiliency for all land downstream of the property by improving the flood resiliency of Spring Creek by enhancing the riparian vegetation and function along the stream bank. For example, the Proposed Concept maintains the 20 metre set back along Spring Creek and Policeman's Creek and planting trees and shrubs within 20 m of Spring Creek to compensate for habitat loss from the proposed clear span bridge construction and will improve wildlife habitat value, erosion, and flood resiliency of the stream.