Clarifying unit counts allowed under the NRCB

by | Nov 10, 2020 | Announcements

There have been questions raised by some residents about the proposed unit counts in the draft Area Structure Plan’s (ASPs) for Three Sisters Village and Smith Creek and how they relate to the 1992 Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) ruling.

The NRCB ruling allows for 8,510 units on lands impacted by the decision. The draft ASPs propose a range between 6,405 and 9,100 units, which includes all the units previously built on applicable TSMV lands. If the maximum number of units in the proposed range are built, the resulting unit count could be about seven per cent higher than the NRCB allows. While the actual number of total units built would be ultimately determined by built form and other factors, units built over the minimum allowed would additionally support higher density, leading to additional affordable housing opportunities and more climate resilient neighbourhoods.

Confusion over past agreements that no longer apply to TSMV

Some of the confusion around unit counts relates to the 1998 Settlement Agreement between the Town of Canmore and Three Sisters Resorts Inc., a company that previously operated TSMV that no longer exists and has no successor. The Settlement Agreement was an independent civil contract that did not modify the NRCB ruling. The Town and the now defunct, Three Sisters Resorts Inc., reached this settlement amongst themselves on a variety of issues at that moment in time, however, it was stated in the Settlement Agreement that neither party was precluded from applying for or making changes to DC1-98, a master zoning bylaw that governs the development of some TSMV lands.

While there have been changes over time to DC1-98, the current unit counts outlined include:

  • The residential unit count in section 14.9.2.4 is 2,847 units;
  • In section 14.9.2.5 the timeshare (or replacement residential) unit count is 600; and,
  • And in section 14.9.2.6 another 1,500 visitor accommodation units are identified.

This means a current total of 4,947 units for these sections in DC1-98. It should be noted that Thunderstone Quarry lands are not included within DC1-98 and are not subject to these unit counts.

As is well known, old TSMV companies run by East-West Partners on behalf of their owner, Morgan Stanley, went into receivership from approximately 2009 to 2013. What is not as well known is that Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd. (the current owner) did not buy the old companies, they only bought certain assets via a Court of Queen’s Bench approved order issued on September 6, 2013.

Typical of any receivership, many old contracts, claims, charges, interests, restrictions and encumbrances were removed from being applicable to the lands and current ownership in the decision made by the Court of Queens Bench. This included the termination of the 1998 Settlement Agreement and other development agreements with the Town at the time.

This court approval means that the 1998 Settlement Agreement has no force or effect on the Three Sisters lands, its ownership or on the draft ASPs being prepared for submission to the Town of Canmore for Council consideration. The Town of Canmore also landed on a similar outcome a few years ago as outlined here under “What is the current status of the Settlement Agreement?” Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd. is not privy to the contents of this legal decision.

Some residents of Canmore may remember that there was also a 2012 Framework Agreement between the Town of Canmore and PriceWaterhouseCoopers Inc. (PwC) that also referenced DC1-98. That Framework Agreement was terminated by PwC in 2013, as no new ASP was adopted by April 1, 2013 as stipulated in that agreement. PwC was a receiver at the time.

The past decisions of the Court of Queen’s Bench and PwC have the effect that the 1998 Settlement Agreement and the 2012 Framework Agreement (along with other agreements or documents not discussed here) are no longer applicable to Three Sisters-owned lands, or the current ownership. As such, the 1992 NRCB Decision retains its status as a key document. The two ASPs being prepared for submission to Town Council, the Resort Village ASP and the Smith Creek ASP, are utilizing the 1992 NRCB Decision, the 2016 Town of Canmore Municipal Development Plan (which was informed by Mining the Future and other work) the 2018 Integrated Transportation Plan and other documents and policies as resources and guidance for preparation for Council consideration.