Choking the corridors

By Cameron Baughen

Currently a development is being proposed in the Spray Lakes region that has the potential to reduce or destroy the bear population in the Bow Valley indefinitely. The proposal, put forward by Genesis Land Developments, will be located on the south end of the Spray Lake reservoir and calls for a luxury hotel, golf course, helicopter skiing, ski resort and boat tours. It is one of the last developments allowed in the Kananaskis region after last year’s provincial government’s moratorium on development.

The main concern of the development is that, when constructed, it will effectively block the migration of bears through the area. Bears require huge tracts of land to forage and, as was seen recently by the shooting of a bear in the region, they do not mix well with humans. Bear habitats are already restricted by the placement of Banff and Canmore at key valley points and this development stands to cut off the movement of the bears entirely, as well as reduce foraging area.

The wolf population of the area, especially in the Three Sisters region, is also put at risk, as the pack, which was recently reduced, will be unable to gain new members from wolves in the Kananaskis valley. Further concern is the need to pave the road from Canmore to the Spray Lakes, which will add to the people using the area, further impacting the wolves and bears which need to move in the valley area close to the road. All of this development will put even more pressure on an essential wildlife corridor, negatively effecting these important species and bringing them into closer contact with humans.

This development should be halted. The region around Calgary abounds with accessible resort ski areas and golf courses. It seems ludicrous to believe that another resort is essential to Albertans, who in a recent survey voiced their approval for a freeze of development in Kananaskis. Besides the threat to key species, there are fewer areas around Calgary that are still left in their natural state for the enjoyment of everyone and not just people willing to pay resort fees.

At the moment, the project is undergoing environmental review and, depending on the results, will be put up for approval by the provincial government. A number of environmental groups, including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and the Sierra Youth Coalition, are involved in fighting this project through lobbying the government. Contacting your local MLA, the Environment minister Gary Mar or Ralph Klein, and telling them your opinion is the best way to preserve the Alberta Wilderness.

Leave a comment