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Canmore hypocrisy and name change

I’ve been climbing in the Bow Valley for over 20 years and have lived here for 16. I’ve seen a lot of changes, some good and some bad. In 2014, local Chris Carlson wrote a letter addressing the proposed development of 25 additional residences in Peaks of Grassi. In the letter, he said, “Protectionist rhetoric masquerading as community concern and environmental protection is disingenuous and polarizes otherwise caring communities.”

Canmore has been growing since I moved here, in fact it’s been growing since the first coal mine in the 1800s. It was the Olympics in 1988 that showed the world of the recreation opportunities. In 2005, the town was flooded with trades people who were being hired, often at $30/hour cash, to do jobs they weren’t qualified for. Trees were cut down, wildlife displaced, and rich people moved here at an alarming rate. Poor people moved here, too, but mostly to live in vans and build the homes. Three Sisters, Silver Tip, Spring Creek and other developments boomed. Old miner shacks were replaced with four-unit multi-leveled condos. You’re probably sitting in one right now.

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Vox populi is that development should stop because this is “our” town and we “care” about wildlife. But do you? Do you care about elk and bear migration? Do you know anything more about it than what’s in the weekly headlines? Would you give up a weekend of backcountry skiing in Rogers Pass to actually do more than whine on social media? Some of you would, but not the majority.

So much damage has been done. There are golf courses where tall trees once stood as wildlife habitat, mountain biking trails slash through game trails, parking lots fill at the base of once quiet slopes and hiking trails overflow with fancy-gear city folks. Canmore is one of Canada’s busiest tourist towns and it’s only getting more popular.

Carlson included in his letter that people fail to consider the joy and relief of these eventual new homeowners, their inevitable contribution, and the new jobs which will be created to complete this development. By living in this landscape of Aspen-esque condos, toques and too many dogs, and saying that we can’t have more Aspen-esque condos is hypocritical. There’s already so much development in Three Sisters that you probably don’t even know about.

And remember that “our” town, and other Bow Valley hubs, sit in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. Treaty 7, which was signed in 1877, encompasses the traditional territory of The Blackfoot Confederacy, The Tsuut’ina First Nations and The Stoney Nakoda Nations of Chiniki, Wesley and Bearspaw. I’m sure that in 1877, there was a lot more wildlife and far fewer condos.

On a positive note, Parks Canada recently changed the name of the Stoney Squaw Trail in Banff to Upper Stoney Trail. The work to erase racist and stupid names from the Rocky Mountains continues. And for the record, I thought Canmore-ville was big enough in 2005, but that didn’t stop anything.

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