Bragg Creek is a popular destination for visitors. But, there are problems in this little piece of paradise. Many different groups are searching for a way through an uncertain future. Residents oppose development that will change the character of the community. Business people are trying to survive. Environmentalists worry that unbridled growth in Calgary will overwhelm us. These pages outline; some of the issues we face, and a proposal that combines the interests of business and the environment in the idea that ecotourism might be a solution.
Tourism should support a healthy, robust business community. The Sustainable Tourism page looks at the challenges and opportunities that shape the tourism business in Bragg Creek.
A search for identity
We’re not a town, we’re part of Rocky View County. We call ourselves a hamlet, that is, a collection of dwellings and associated buildings in close proximity to each other. But, according to the provincial government, we’re not close enough. Our lot sizes are too large to qualify as a hamlet. That means we cannot get provincial funding for infrastructure projects. As the municipality covers a large and diverse territory, they have difficulty dealing with the unique needs of Bragg Creek.
We’re inextricably linked to Calgary. Most residents work, shop and recreate in Calgary. We are dependant on Calgary for many services. We could be a suburb, but they are generally considered to be communities lying inside the boundary of a city. An exurb is a community linked to, but beyond the limits of a large city. That is the definition that best fits our situation. So we’re the exurb of Bragg Creek. We live as if we are a part of Calgary.
The Elbow River flows through Bragg Creek into Calgary where it forms a critical part of its water supply. The source of the Elbow River is about 50 km west of here. Bragg Creek is the first, and largest community on the river. Whatever impact we have on the river, affects Calgary. At this point, we’re having a negative impact on the river – we’re poluting it, and Calgary doesn’t appreciate it. As new communities develop between Calgary and Bragg Creek, they get connected to the Calgary water system. Calgary is coming our way and we’re not big enough to fend off its embrace. The Citizen’s Advisory Committee on water services in Bragg Creek recommended a local water treatment and supply system in 2002. Calgary opposed the proposal. They want to have Bragg Creek connected to Calgary through a pipeline. As no provincial funding is available and there aren’t enough landowners and businesses to pay for a water treatment system, we’re stuck.
There is no apparent solution to living with contaminated water. No new services like emergency response and security services, affordable high speed internet, accommodation for seniors, health services, public transport or facilities for youth are planned that I’m aware of.
The contamination of the Elbow in Bragg Creek is a cronic problem that was first identified in 1975. In February, 2006 there is a moratorium on development in the core of Bragg Creek pending resolution of the water problem. In the past 8 years 4 of 5 “large” (25 homes) development projects in the greater Bragg Creek area have been blocked. Water is often cited as the reason, although the density of the developments is also a concern. Residents use the water issue as a tool to block development that they see as a threat to their way of life.
Water is a big problem, but it could be a solution. We live in a pristine wilderness where crystal clear water flows out of the mountains, through forests with abundant wildlife. It’s a natural paradise, ask anyone who lives or visits here. Bragg Creek needs to be known as a source for pure life-sustaining water. Clean water and a pristine natural habitat should sustain our community.