elbow river

Elbow River in Bragg Creek

log house

Old log home

wood lilyThis concept outlines a privately funded commercial development that could help sustain the community where governments are unable to provide solutions. It would manage environmental impacts on the Elbow Valley watershed and ensure the quality of life for residents. It could easily go awry if visitor traffic overwhelmed the environment we’re trying to protect. Vehicle traffic and parking would require significant controls. Perhaps a barrier would be required to restrict visitor vehicles.

To be viable this venture would need to attract a lot of people and they would need overnight accommodation. Several hundred rooms would be needed. That could only be built outside existing developed areas – maybe along the northern boarder past Wintergreen. I’ve often thought that a corridor extending highway 8 west along the Tsuu T’ina border extending past Wintergreen to Kananaskis, would help bring services, communication cables, pathways and vehicle access into the area with little impact on existing developments. But, if the facilities are built outside the area, we can’t expect to tap into the revenues to invest in local infrastructure.

While researching this proposal I came across a development proposed for New Jersey, near New York City. The Xanadu project planned by The Mills Corporation (Arlington, VA), and Mack-Cali Realty Corporation (Cranford, NJ). It is similar to the one envisioned here.

According to the developers, “Xanadu is visually compelling multi-use attraction incorporating family entertainment, office, and hotel uses. The diverse components will intensify existing sports complex uses and introduce new, related and complementary participatory sports and recreation uses, entertainment and education venues, and complementary leisure uses.”

As this illustration shows, a project of this size would overwhelm the existing community. This is an example of how this concept could go horribly wrong.

I put this proposal forward for your consideration. I think it could solve some problems and add value to the lives of residents in Bragg Creek. It could only work if it were properly managed and if it is generally accepted in the community as a way to sustain the community and the environment. If you’ve read this far, you can’t help but have an opinion on this. I’d love to know if this proposal has any merrit – whether it is a solution or a problem. I expect that it will be controversial – a lightning rod for people opposed to change, but I see insurmountable obstacles to a better quality of life all around. I see decay and desperation in the commercial core. We need to think about solutions not barriers to growth. Resistance to change is normal, more so when what you have is so idyllic. But, things could be better. I’ve been told that there was significant opposition to the Wintergreen ski hill when it was proposed. Now that it has come and gone, it is missed. Elkana Ranch closed many years ago. The fun and games are gone there too. Bragg Creek is just no fun anymore.

Further information on Sustainable Communities

Town of Banff Special Initiatives

To achieve its mission of providing the optimum quality of life for our residents and a quality experience for our visitors, the Town of Banff is continually working to find more efficient, effective, and more environmentally sustainable ways to operate and deliver services. Accordingly, the Town of Banff often leads or participates in various projects and initiatives that will help us become balanced, involved, sustainable national park community.

Environmental Management Program

For information on this program aimed at ensuring that development and other activities associated with human use in national parks do not adversely affect the health of the park ecosystem, click the “Special Initiatives” link below.

No-Net-Negative Environmental Impact

This important concept guides the Town of Banff’s approach to planning and operations.

Environmental Stewardship Policy

This important policy is one of the cornerstones in the town of Banff’s efforts to become a model, sustainable national park community.

Town of Banff Special Initiatives

Strategic Plan

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities

The FCM has defined a ‘sustainable community’ as a ‘smart’ community that preserves or improves quality of life while minimizing its impact on the environment. It achieves these goals using fiscally and environmentally responsible policies, and attains economic, environmental and social health by:
• making the most efficient use of resources;
• generating the least amount of waste;
• providing high quality service to its residents;
• living within the carrying capacity of its natural resources.

What is a Sustainable Community