More people are participating in an online public engagement on the Mount St. Francis southland area structure plan than when they held an event in Cochrane last November.

Because of the pandemic, the ad hoc committee has been conducting its engagement online and already over 300 people have responded.

"About 80 per cent of the 300 never came out to our previous event, so it shows we're reaching an audience that maybe we wouldn't have reached if we had an in-person," says Tamille Beynon, senior communications and engagement specialist for B&A Planning Group.

But, she notes, they also facilitate those needing a person-to-person conversation.

Those wanting to participate in the online survey have until this Tuesday, June 30. After that, the data will be reviewed before the ASP beginning its review process with the Town of Cochrane. The engagement began June 15.

The 160-acres includes in the ASP are owned by the Franciscans of Canada. The ASP calls for the development of 60 acres and gifting the other 100 acres to the town as an environmental reserve.

Comments from their November engagement have been instrumental in developing the initial draft of the ASP, says Beynon. In particular, they have taken note of set back concerns noted by 4th Ave. residents.

Beynon explains it's basically an extension of the Sun Terra Ridge area that would be a mix of residential and commercial development.

"Most of the hill will be preserved. I think that was people's biggest concern that we would be developing every square inch of the land."

"The developable area is on the benchlands and it takes into consideration the topography and the sensitivity to the icon hill."

Born and raised in Cochrane, Beynon says she knows the importance of the hill to the community, as do the Franciscans.

The Franciscans recently celebrated 70 years in Cochrane, and own a total of 444 acres within Cochrane and bordering Rocky View County.

Comments will be reviewed and taken into consideration before the ASP is submitted to the town to begin its review. That could occur as early as July. 

Those wanting more information on the current public engagement and ASP can look here.