CMCA shows support for ASP

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Members of the Castle Mountain Community Association (CMCA) largely showed their support for the M.D. of Pincher Creek’s proposed area structure plan during a public hearing held on December 12, 2019.

The proposed ASP seeks to outline the parameters in which residential accommodations and commercial and recreational amenities could be developed within Castle Mountain Resort’s boundaries.

Another goal of the ASP is to observe development limitations regarding Castle Mountain Resort’s location, and the integration of locational attributes.

The plan’s objectives highlight an interest in having Castle Mountain Resort’s master plan in line with what the ASP will allow it to do in terms of future developments.

Other objectives include maintaining a pedestrian character of open space, adequate vehicle circulation, incorporating an Environmental Management Plan to address concerns regarding the use and development of the land, and to ensure that the M.D. and provincial agencies are involved in future planning endeavors of the resort.

CMCA members largely showed interest in what was presented in the proposed bylaw 1313-19 during the public hearing, considering the resort’s goals to expand their operations seasonally.

Darryl Murphy, who presented to council at the public hearing, said he believed the proposed ASP would be a good step forward for the resort.

“It’s taken a lot of years, and a lot of negotiations and working back and forth, that our community at Castle Mountain and the M.D. council… are working towards the same goals and objectives,” said Murphy.

“Castle Mountain is a very important part of our extended community, and we feel very much a part of the M.D.”

Glenn Armstrong, CMCA Director, said in a presentation during the public hearing that he saw a number of benefits that could come from the ASP.

“(CMCA) is a not-for-profit society, so we’re not here for any profit goals. We’re here to try and make sure that the place is well-used, primarily by residents of Alberta and visitors from beyond, and to make sure that youth have the opportunity to utilize the place as well,” said Armstrong.

“Despite all the economic downturn, Castle Mountain Resort has entered successfully into it’s 52nd year of operation—a remarkable feat from a company that has had a great deal of trail and tribulation to get to where we are,” he said.

“I believe moving forward with this ASP by the M.D. is a very positive step. I believe that with the landscape of the economy in this part of the country… I think it’s a very positive step if the M.D. move forward with this particular ASP.

“They’re changing, they’re adapting, and they’re realizing that things are different—they’re not the same as they used to be. We need to do things to make sure they do continue,” said Armstrong.

The proposed ASP was not without opposition however, with a number of parties concerned about environmental due diligence.

James Tweedie, a Lundbreck resident, said in a submitted letter to council that he believed the M.D. was rushing into the public hearing regarding the ASP before Castle Mountain Resort prepared an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report to Alberta Environment and Parks.

“From the outset of Castle Mountain Resort’s planning process for a new ASP… the M.D. has been an active participant. As participants they have been fully aware over the past four years (at least) that CMR’s ambitions for the resort are predicated on CMR’s ability to expand their operations both spatially and seasonally to explot ecological resources associated with the wilderness and wildland values currently protected through the designation of the Castle Provincial and Wildland Parks,” wrote Tweedie.

“(The M.D.) has been aware from the outset… that the Government of Alberta might require CMR to carry out an EIA, before any expansion of the activities contemplated by CMR would be approved,” he said.

“The Government of Alberta issued it’s ‘Screening Report for Castle Mountain Resort Inc’s Master Development Plan,” on November 6. In that report, the director considered a number of concerns raised by staff from AEP as well as others that have been well-known to the M.D. since this planning exercise started.

“The director’s conclusion reads, ‘given the information above, the CMR will be directed to prepare an EIA report. This is due to the potential significant adverse effects on wildlife and species at risk, to adjacent protected areas such as the Castle Wildland Provincial Park, and from larger water needs to support snowmaking and domestic use and treatment of water,” Tweedie wrote.

Grace Wark, Conservation Specialist at Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA), also wrote council requesting that they postpone the public hearing.

“On November 7, 2018, AWA wrote to AEP requesting that an EIA be required before considering CMR’s proposal for expansion. AWA has a long-standing history of engagement and caring concern for this region,” wrote Wark.

“Indeed, this is the area AWA’s founding members were most concerned about when they formed the association. They knew this area was of great significance to wildlife and wilderness and needed protection,” she wrote.

“The recently mandated requirement that CMR prepare an EIA is another important part of the renewal process. Vitally important direction will be part of the EIA review, and while it may seem efficient to council to proceed with revising and renewing an outdated ASP, in is absolutely counter to the intent and the benefit you will have in your decision making when the EIA is complete.”

Patrick Rogers, a Calgary resident who leases Lot 111 at CMR, said the proposed ASP undermines the terms highlighted in his tender package from when he purchased the lease in 2005, in a letter to CAO Tory MacCulloch.

“In the November 2005 CMR Tender Package, it was described that there would never be any new buildings or lots south or west of the boundaries of Lot 111. I observed that in the draft CMR ASP of June 2019, there is a yellow shaded area defined as ‘future accomodations’ south and west of Lot 111,” Rogers wrote.

“I have an extreme issue with this potential future development adjacent to my lot, as the lot tender package of 2005 descirbes that no development south or west of Lot 111 would occur, due to a 30 metre buffer, ‘which will never be built on,’ from the Gravenstafel Brook. It was under this understanding that I purchased the lease for Lot 111.”

The M.D. has been collaborating with CMCA and Castle Mountain Resort Inc. since at least 2015 to create an ASP that would be beneficial to all parties to help guide future growth and development at the resort.

The need for a new ASP was identified as the current ASP has not been reviewed or updated since 2002.