|You have a chance right now to make all the difference for the future of Canada’s wildlife.
The Rocky Mountain parks are among Canada’s true jewels — places that all who live there, have visited, or who wish to visit hold dear to their hearts. They symbolize our deep respect for the land and all that it provides, and they allow the world to witness Canadians’ dedication to conservation and environmental leadership.
The town of Canmore is situated between two of the largest protected areas in the Canadian Rockies — Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country. The continentally significant valley in which Canmore is situated is not protected under Parks legislation, and has experienced exponential development growth over the last couple of decades. The footprint of the town now sprawls up both the northern and southern slopes of the valley, and threatens to sever the movement of wildlife species between their habitats in Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country.
The Bow Valley — where Canmore is situated — is a gravel bed river ecosystem, which is relatively rare in the protected areas of the Canadian Rockies but provides prime habitat for grizzlies, elk, wolves, deer and other animals. The Bow Valley is well known to be a critical route in the movement of these species between the parks.
The movement of large mammals through the valley and the survival of those that make it their home are threatened by the human activity and development in Canmore. If the pressure becomes great enough, these animals will no longer be able to move through, and their populations on either side of the movement corridor will become isolated from one another. Isolated populations eventually “wink out” as they lose the genetic diversity that makes them resilient to disturbances like climate change.
What can we do to ensure that this does not happen?
Wildlife corridors are areas of land reserved for animals so that they can:
• move freely while looking for food;
• migrate safely and effectively without human interference;
• find mates in other regions, promoting the genetic diversity that is critical to the survival of wildlife populations.
Since the early 1990s, Canmore has been ground zero for research into how wildlife corridors work and why they are necessary. Due to the work of local governments, hundreds of conservation organizations, scientists and researchers, we now know a lot about what is needed for a wildlife corridor to be functional for all the species who use it.
Currently there are a number of developers looking to expand the development footprint within the Bow Valley by building commercial and residential real estate, including a casino, a massive conference centre, more than a dozen hotels, housing, and commercial businesses within and around the Town of Canmore. When combined, these developments would double the size of town to 34,000 residents in a relatively short span of time.
With such growth, the residents of Canmore are concerned that wildlife will no longer be able to disperse and maneuver through the valley.
How you can help? Please take these 2 simple steps:
1) Sign this petition asking Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Shannon Phillips, to conduct a cumulative impacts study that takes into consideration ALL current and foreseeable large-scale developments in the Bow Valley.
2) Write your OWN LETTER outlining your concerns to the decision-makers below. Address your letter to Roger Ramcharita at the email address provided and copy Shannon Phillips, Cam Westhead and Canmore town council.
We’re asking Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks to:
1. Conduct a cumulative impacts study; consider the impact that the decisions we make today will have on future generations of wildlife and people;
2. Protect Canmore and the Bow Valley’s very unique ecosystems, which need to be preserved in order for wildlife in the entire region to flourish. Use the very best science and use the precautionary principle in making decisions about the future of wildlife in the Bow Valley.
We’re asking the Town of Canmore Council to:
3. Not issue new approvals on development proposals that would expand Canmore’s footprint until a cumulative impacts study is conducted by a multi-jurisdictional task force. Note that we are not calling for a moratorium on all development, just a pause on approvals of new, large-scale developments on undeveloped lands at the edges of the town.
4. Consider instead of resort-driven growth (such as casinos, hotels and conference centres), refocusing on growing the area as a centre for environmental and scientific research, particularly pertaining to the conservation of wildlife and wilderness.
This petition to be delivered to:
Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks: AEP.Minister@gov.ab.ca
Cameron Westhead, MLA for Banff-Cochrane: email@example.com
Canmore Town Council: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Ramcharita, Executive Director, Alberta Environment and Parks, South Saskatchewan Region: AEP.email@example.com
**Photo credit: Amanda Allard Photography (amandaallardphotography.com)**