Canmore is no Banff, but it is a charming and popular mountain town in its own right. Just outside of the famous park and just over an hour from Calgary, Canmore is less touristy, and far less commercialized than its internationally famous neighbour fifteen minutes to the west.
Homier than Banff and wildlife friendly, it would like to stay that way. Consequently, it recently rejected two development proposals that would ultimately have doubled its population from the current 14,000. In an impressive display of democracy, a seven-day public hearing heard from hundreds of citizens about the latest proposal, with hundreds more writing in letters, expressing concern about the effects on the town and the wildlife.
Environmentalists particularly applauded the decision as Canmore lies in a critical wildlife corridor for grizzlies, wolves, elk and other animals migrating through the Bow valley. Apparently some residents are discussing the possibility of buying at least part of the town’s remaining developable land for conservation.
This rejection of growth is heresy among business and political interests. The mantra of growth is all-pervasive. Businesses must grow, towns and cities must grow, countries must grow, the GDP must grow. Success it seems is measured almost entirely by growth.
It defies good sense. The planet has limits. Resources are finite, yet we continue to demand more of them even as the demand increasingly exceeds the ability of the planet to replace them.
So seeing Canmore reject growth on the basis of community values and concern for wildlife is a breath of fresh air. A small event, perhaps, but an encouraging one.