Act Now To Protect The Bow River And Protected Areas In The Bow Valley

All Albertans who care about protecting the Bow River, Bow Valley Provincial Park, Bow Valley Wildland Park, and other protected areas should contact the following politicians now and oppose the development of a new town proposed for the Horseshoe Lands on the banks of the Bow River at the entrance to the Rocky Mountains, or at the very least request that the Province require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before any development proposal is considered for this area.

The Honourable Ed Stelmach, Premier
E-mail: [email protected]

The Honourable Ted Morton, Minister of Sustainable Resource Development
E-mail: [email protected]

The Honourable Hector Goudreau, Minister of Tourism, Parks, Recreation and Culture
E-mail: [email protected]

The Honourable Janis Tarchuk, MLA, Banff-Cochrane
E-mail: [email protected]

Kevin Taft, Leader of the Opposition
E-mail: [email protected]

Dr. David Swann, Environment Critic
E-mail: [email protected]

Brian Mason, NDP Leader
E-mail: [email protected]

In spite of serious concerns about the water quality of the Bow River and the cumulative impact of the Horseshoe Lands development on the Bow Valley Provincial Park and other nearby protected areas, the Government of Alberta has not even required an Environmental Impact Assessment of the proposed development of a new town to determine:

  • the impacts of developing a town with 5600 people (1400% minimum increase above the current population of Exshaw) on the edge of the Bow Valley Provincial Park at the mountain entrance to the Bow Valley at Seebe;
  • the effects on the water quality and quantity downstream to Calgary as a result of water consumption, discharge of sewage effluent, and contamination by stormwater;
  • the danger of a further expansion of development on the north side of the Bow River;
  • the cumulative impacts of a significant increase in development when the Bow Valley is already overloaded with major ongoing development in Canmore, and new or expanded development approved for Dead Man's Flats, Rafter Six Guest Ranch Resort, and the Stoney Nation casino on the Trans Canada Highway at the junction of Highway 40;
  • the cumulative impacts of human use on the already stressed natural environments of the Bow Valley Provincial Park, Bow Valley Wildland Park including the Mount Yamnuska area, and the Kananaskis Valley;
  • the impacts of the destruction of a significant amount of a very sensitive watershed ecosystem that is unique in its variety of orchids, wood lilies and other scarce species;
  • the impacts of the disturbance to wildlife movement and habitat;
  • the impacts of disturbance of active nests of migratory birds as protected under the Migratory Bird Convention Act.


The new town proposed for the Horseshoe Lands would occupy land formerly owned by TransAlta Utilities Ltd. on the banks of the Bow River below the mouth of the Kananaskis River. A small portion of it once held the tiny village of Seebe, home to a small number of TransAlta employees. The village was closed recently and most of the buildings removed.

Development of the Horseshoe Lands is being proposed by Moondance Land Company and a numbered Alberta company owned by the Stoney Nakoda Nation. It would accommodate at least 5600 people, with 2900 residential units, as well as commercial and industrial facilities. It is proposed for a wonderful natural region that is already being impacted by the growing cumulative effects of development and human use.

Environmental watchdogs such as the Bow Riverkeeper, and major conservation organizations estimate that the proposed Horseshoe Development poses a significant risk of contamination of the Bow River, and will cause serious cumulative impacts on Alberta's protected areas in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis Valley.

Dangers related to water supply and quality

The Draft Area Structure Plan for the Horseshoe Lands development estimates the amount of water needed to service the development to be 2400 m3 per day with approximately 1900 m3 per day returned to the water as effluent. The Bow Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog of the Bow River, compares this to needing to fill up to 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day.

The developers have submitted two license applications to Alberta Environment for the withdrawal of 2800 m3 per day on average from the Bow River. While these applications were submitted prior to the recent moratorium on new water licenses for the Bow River, they are subject to the new Water Conservation Objectives.

The alternative source of water is withdrawal from Exshaw's deep aquifer, which is estimated to be about 650 metres deep. No Provincial testing has been done to prove that there is sufficient water for Exshaw's anticipated growth and for the Horseshoe Lands development as well.

The Horseshoe Lands development would put more wastewater effluent into the Bow River and generate polluted storm water. Even if state of the art (tertiary) treatment is applied, treated effluent is still polluted water, and with the additional effect on the stormwater, the Bow River would be contaminated.

Drinking water from the Bow River downstream to Calgary and the ecological health of the Bow Valley are at serious risk, and should be the concern of all Albertans.

To learn more about this issue, please check out the following websites:

From the Bow Corridor Organization for Responsible Development (BowCORD)