With restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been forced to look closer at their home and its surroundings. This has led some people to the decision that it’s time for something new.
Conversely, for outdoorsy Sharon Taylor, it was a chance for the Canmore resident to discover new reasons she was in the right place. For example, during this time, she became acquainted with a substantial and scenic trail network, reaching more than 20 kilometres.
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“It’s amazing how well you can connect,” says Taylor. The sommelier, originally from Saskatchewan, also enjoys skiing, hiking, biking and recently bought a pack raft online, allowing her to spend more time in the connected mountain lakes.
“It has everything that I want to do,” she adds of the Bow Valley. “I don’t have to get in my car and drive for two hours.”
After first buying at Creekstone Mountain Lodge, Taylor and her partner Andrew Wright recently moved to their second home within Spring Creek, at Jack Pine Lodge. While she jokes “you have to try really hard to find a place that doesn’t have great views (in Canmore),” she says their new home has improved sightlines and more space, in a generously proportioned two-bedroom home. The master-planned neighbourhood, bordered by two spring-fed creeks in Canmore, includes single-family estates, villas, apartment- style condominium buildings with vacation use, and a mountain lodge with vacation residences, and a seniors’ residence.
Earlier this year, it earned Canada’s first ever Platinum certification through the Built Green Communities pilot program.
On their decision to buy at Spring Creek, Taylor singles out its location.
“Everything is right here,” she says. “They have all these lovely pathways, I can walk from here to main street, I can walk to the grocery store. I can walk downtown, have a cocktail, and then walk back home. I can walk out my door, down to the river and go for a hike from there.”
More than a dozen businesses are located in Spring Creek including a pilates studio, art gallery, wine shop, specialty deli, restaurant within the Malcolm Hotel and neighbourhood pub. Taylor compares the Spring Creek experience to life in a small town.
“I will walk somewhere every day and will always see someone that I can at least say hi to,” she says. “Especially when you weren’t able to go out and do anything (during the COVID-19 lockdowns), having someone you can recognize and say hi to, that’s a nice thing.”
She says the couple was drawn to the quality of the build, including its use of geothermal. Every building at Spring Creek has geothermal in-floor heating and air cooling.
“All really nice high-end finishings are already included,” she says, adding they’ve been impressed with the building’s temperature control and air quality, as well.
“The air feels good, I feel good,” adds Taylor. “With Alberta weather, where it’s dry, it’s hot, it’s cold, that’s saying something if your heating and cooling system just does its job and makes you feel comfortable.”
At the time this was written in June 2021, home sales through the resale market in Canmore year-to-date were up 238 per cent from the same time in 2020, says the Calgary Real Estate Board. This was led by the apartment segment, hiking 410 per cent year over year. At the start of the pandemic, prices in Canmore corrected by about five per cent, says Jessica Stoner, an associate broker with Re/Max Alpine Realty in Canmore.
“There were a lot of people worried about if they were going to keep their job or if their business would survive,” she adds. “There was some sell-off at that point at some reduced prices. Then everything turned on its head. It has been extraordinarily busy with huge amounts of buyer demand since then, for more than a year now.”
Over the past month, however, she has seen the market “take a breather.”
“Prices are still pretty much coming in at full price or above, but you’re not necessarily going to have five or seven offers to compete with.” Interest and sales at Spring Creek have surged, as well, says Frank Kernick, owner, developer and president of Spring Creek. Spring Creek lands have belonged to his family since 1927.
“This last six to 10 months is the strongest interest I think I’ve seen in Canmore and Spring Creek since the mid-2000s,” says Kernick. “It was going through a boom at that time.”
Shovels turned for the start of construction on Arnica Lodge, which is now selling, earlier this year. It’s a 47-unit complex with suites still available ranging from $599,000 to $1.2 million plus GST. The Tamarack, which is 95 per cent sold out, is slated to offer first possessions in the first quarter of 2022. Also this autumn, Spring Creek plans to launch its next project, Timberstone Lodge, which will feature a 56-unit Tourist Home designated condominium building. Many units at Spring Creek have Tourist Home permitted use through the Town of Canmore. With this zoning, condominiums are permitted to be used as either a permanent residence, short-term rentals or long-term rentals.
“After the first month or two, everyone was working remotely,” says Kernick of the impact on COVID-19. “This is going to be a huge change for the world, how people are going to work in the future. This is something I think is permanent. We’re not going back to the way we used to work.”
In response, when the developer started designing Arnica Lodge about a year ago, there was a heightened emphasis on in-home work spaces, adding more floor plans with dens and designated work spaces than it had in the past.
“A lot of people have been working at their kitchen table or counter,” Kernick says. “If you plan to work remotely, and don’t go into the office every day: two things — you’ll want a proper place to work in your home, and where would you want to work if you’re allowed to work remotely?”
This question is what has brought areas well known for recreation properties into the spotlight, adds Kernick, singling out Canmore, and Collingwood, Ont.
“Maybe they had a recreation home they went to on weekends, and this last year, they lived there full-time, and worked there full-time — they went mountain biking, they went skiing.”
Apart from Spring Creek, Canmore has other options for new home buyers on the horizon. The approved Silvertip Area Structure Plan (ASP), located on about 600 acres (243 hectares), allows for approximately 750 residential units, including detached homes, semi-detached homes and condos. This plan also includes approval for 1,500 resort accommodation units, which can be rental homes, chalets, golf cabins, or luxury hotel suites and rooms, says the developer Stone Creek Resorts. Approximately 350 residential units have been developed at this time.
Later this year, construction will start on about 50 chalets on a four-acre (1.61-hectare) parcel within Silvertip. These rental accommodation units will range in size from 1,800 to 3,000 square feet and will be priced from about $750,000 to $1 million. Silvertip will also release new large estate lots and semi-attached lots later this year. These lots are on a south/southwest-facing parcel of land, with sight lines of the Three Sisters and Rundle mountains. These lots will range in price from $990,000 to $1.7 million. The developer says these lots will be among the last in Canmore to not have a house size restriction.
Canmore Town council recently approved the land use for a mixed-use project called Gateway at Three Sisters by Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd. It’s located right off the Three Sisters interchange on the Trans-Canada Highway.
“This is Canmore’s largest commercial development in almost two decades, and Three Sisters is proud to be undertaking the project as developer, owner and operator long-term,” says Chris Ollenberger, of Three Sisters Mountain Village Properties Ltd.
He adds that it includes opportunities for “a “full-sized grocery store, retail, restaurants, coffee shops, research and educational tenancy, personal services, medical and more … with many active leasing discussions well underway.”
The residential community portion within it has opportunity for more than 200 homes with what Ollenberger calls “amazing views and the walkable commercial amenities of Gateway at its doorstep.” Homes in Gateway at Three Sisters will include townhomes, apartments and mixed-use buildings. Timing on sales of these homes is to be determined. Future phases within the commercial area will also have mixed use opportunities.
“We are currently also finalizing negotiations for a significant residential development within a portion of Gateway at Three Sisters with a very experienced, well-known and respected award-winning major builder,” says Ollenberger.
In town, infills have been on the rise. Ian O’Donnell, executive director of the Bow Valley Builders and Developers Association, calls it a “transition.”
“Canmore is continuing its evolution as a former mining town into more of a tourism and lifestyle community,” he says. “With that, you’re seeing older houses that are at the edge of their lifespan being taken down — or renovated — but generally taken down, and being replaced by two higher-end duplexes or quadplexes.”