kananaskis divide

Map of protected/unprotected areas

When Peter Lougheed created Kananaskis in 1977, the world was a simpler place. He wanted to make the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies, west of Calgary, into a natural habitat refuge for people (he wouldn’t say that, but I think it’s true), but there was a problem. The area was called the Forestry; oil and gas companies knew there were rich resources there and ranchers had been grazing their cattle there for a long time. So his government came up with a brilliant solution – let’s call it a multi-use area. Some 4,000 sq. km. of wild land that embodied the modern wild west.
That’s not working out very well. The Elbow Valley in Kananaskis receives 500,000 visitors a year; West Bragg Creek in Kananaskis welcomes 150,000. Anthropologists say that, by 2050, the city of Calgary will share a border with Kananaskis.
Thinking about a little nooky tonight? Your children might think Kananaskis is a park, part of Calgary, not unlike Nose Hill – not an industrial zone where poisonous gas an forests of trees are harvested as they are now.
It’s time to face facts. Multi-use isn’t working. The big thing Calgary has going for it is “Outdoor Adventure”. If we want to attract the world’s best and brightest – we need to make it a place they want to live, and having a wild land 45 minutes from the city centre is a great way to do it.
And, that’s not all. The foothills provide 80% of Calgary’s fresh water. Mess with that and you’ve got a big problem. Industrial development in Kananaskis is a great way to mess with that. Vancouver and New York recognized long ago that protecting their watersheds was critical for the survival of their cities. Please Mr./Ms. Mayor/Premier – get with the program.
The solution? Bite the bullet. Make Kananaskis a place for people. Make it a destination for fraught Calgarians to find solace – make it a fresh water resource that provides clean, abundant water, while protecting the city from flood or drought.