Dogged Determination: Heather MacFadyen's Epic Persistence in Petitioning the Alberta Government to Live Up to Its Promises Earned Her Earth Day Canada's 2010 Hometown Hero Individual Award

By Ross, Nicola | Alternatives Journal, September 2010 | Go to article overview

Dogged Determination: Heather MacFadyen's Epic Persistence in Petitioning the Alberta Government to Live Up to Its Promises Earned Her Earth Day Canada's 2010 Hometown Hero Individual Award


Ross, Nicola, Alternatives Journal


HEATHER MacFadyen relates her horror upon returning to her weekend home in Canmore, Alberta, after a six-week hiatus. "I was driving along the road that leads to our place when I realized that something was missing. What had been a mature lodgepole pine forest a few short weeks ago was now an open field."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

It was 1998, and a developer had razed the trees to make way for yet another housing development in the burgeoning town that has more than tripled in size in 20 years, Located at the eastern entrance to Banff National Park and a 90-minute drive from Calgary, Canmore is a hot commodity for Albertans interested in a mountain getaway.

MacFadyen, who holds a PhD and specializes in school and community psychology, knew nothing about environmental laws or wildlife corridors at the time, but she loved the Rockies. "The mountains have been our family's place of retreat and renewal forever," she explains.

Then, in 2000, MacFadyen and her husband moved permanently to Canmore, and realized they were living smack-dab in the middle of the Bow Valley: a swath of nature that joins Banff National Park to the extraordinary Wind Valley. Providing habitat for grizzly bears, elk, cougars and other magnificent mammals, the corridor was certain to become a battleground where conflicts would arise between the needs of wildlife and the pleasures of Canmore's changing demographic.

For years, Canmore was a down-parka kind of town largely populated by folks more interested in slipping skins onto their backcountry skis than snapping into high-tech downhill gear. Then, in the early 1990s, Alberta's Natural Resources Conservation Board (NRCB) allowed construction of the massive residential and recreational Three Sisters Resort project near Canmore, as long as the developer allowed for a wildlife corridor. …

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