Banff Centre to host conference on ‘amenity migration’ 

Amenity Migration: the movement of people for pleasure rather than economic reasons.

There’s hardly a more obvious example of the phenomenon than the growth that has completely changed the face of Whistler and Canmore over the past two decades.

And there’s hardly a more suitable venue at which to host a conference examining the trend than the Banff Centre for Mountain Culture.

And running May 15 thru 19, the Banff Centre will host a conference titled Understanding and Managing Amenity-Led Migration in Mountain Regions. Participants will explore the current state of knowledge about amenity migration and share existing and proposed ideas for planning and management of such communities, with an aim toward drafting guidelines that will help mountain communities to manage the changes that come with amenity-led migration.

About 70 researchers, land managers, community administrators and political representatives are scheduled to participate in the event, sharing their expertise and suggestions for solutions to the challenges faced by communities that attract full and part time residents primarily for the beauty of the surrounding natural landscapes and quality and quantity of recreational opportunities.

“It’s a very relevant and timely topic locally, regionally and internationally that will only grow in the future,” said conference coordinator Amy Krause.

While a forum exploring the phenomenon that took place in Ketchum, Idaho in February was designed for the benefit of planners and politicians, the Banff Centre conference, the latest in its Mountain Communities Conferences series, will be the first such event devoted solely to the phenomenon of amenity migration as a whole, with presentations examining such elements as second homes, retirement homes, tourism and driving forces, as well as strategic tools, methods and planning in response to amenity migration.

Results from the conference will be published and available in the conference proceedings, and some steering committee members have expressed interest in creating a handbook that could be referred to in the long term by managers and planners.

The conference will feature seven plenary speakers from near and far, including Idaho, Alaska and Switzerland, as well as panel discussions examining topics such as affordable housing delivery in areas of high-value landscape such as England’s Lake District, managing amenity migration in Golden, B.C., and affinity to place, serious leisure and community resilience in amenity communities.

Among the case studies being presented are one by Smithers, B.C. town councillor Jo Ann Groves, which examines how Smithers might benefit from large-scale industrial development projects as well as possible ski hill expansion plans, while retaining its small town character and the many amenities that attract people to Smithers as a community of choice.

Featured guest speakers include Dr. Lawrence Moss, a member of the board for the Canmore based Chinook Institute for Community Stewardship who has spent the past 15 years targeting cultural and environmentally sustainable issues in mountain regions, and who, with his wife, Dr. Romella S. Glorioso, an environmental change analyst and planner, established the International Amenity Migration Centre in 2003.

Other speakers include Dennis Glick, director of the Northern Rockies Office of the Sonoran Institute and Linda Kruger, research social scientist with the United States Forest Service’s Alaska Communities and Forest Environments Team in Juneau, Alaska. Another paper being presented is the work of Albertan Dr. Raymond Chipeniuk who has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on his research in regional, resource and park planning and planning for amenity migration.

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