Who is the Holy Spirit Province of Canada?2019-11-13T22:21:56+00:00

The Holy Spirit Province of Canada is the name given to the entity which brings together the professed religious brothers, or friars, known as the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), or Franciscans, in Canada. There are approximately 55 active, and some 30 retired friars, who have dedicated themselves to proclaim Jesus Christ and to serve the Church, by ministering to all people. These men live in ten communities though out Canada and undertake various ministries from parish work, to caring for the poor, addiction counselling and support, to preaching in retreat houses. The Province has an administrative structure, with a Provincial Minister and Council, which oversees and decides on the functioning of the brotherhood and the care of its goods.

Who are the Apostolic Trustees who advise the Holy Spirit Province of Canada?2019-11-13T22:22:39+00:00

The Apostolic Trustees of the Friars Minor or Franciscans are lay men and women who form the Corporate Board of Directors of the Franciscan Province of the Holy Spirit, and are effectively the owners of the friars’ goods and the financial advisors to the Provincial Minister and his Council. The Trustees financial decisions take into account the desires and values made known to them by the Provincial Minister and Council of the Franciscans. Their mandate, by law, is to assist the Province in realizing its mission by assuring that there will be financial and legal solvency.

How did the Franciscans acquire the South Lands?2020-06-24T15:14:53+00:00

The portions of the “Cochrane Hill” currently owned by the Holy Spirit Province of Canada were formerly owned by Mr. Charles Wellington Fisher, who purchased the lands in 1907, and then by the McConachie family in 1931.

In 1949 the Franciscan Order’s statutes did not permit the members to own property. A Board of Trustees held the fiduciary responsibility to preserve and manage the Order’s physical assets and administer the property in conjunction with the Franciscans’ wishes and in promotion of their ministry. This Board of Trustees continues to perform this action on behalf of the Franciscan Order to this day.

At the Franciscans’ request, approximately 350 acres of land, including the South Lands, were purchased from the McConachie family through an intermediary agent and subsequently transferred to the Trustees in favour of the Franciscans.

For more information on the history of the lands, please click HERE.

Where does the Holy Spirit Province of Canada secure funds to provide for the friars and to conduct their ministries?2019-11-13T22:22:51+00:00

Those friars who are gainfully employed contribute to the Province’s goods, the spiritual services rendered by the friars earn some money, and those who are retired gain a government pension.  Additionally, the friars are mendicants, “beggars”; they solicit the public for support so that their good works might continue.  The Apostolic Trustees in turn are entrusted by the friars with all the Franciscans’ goods, and see to managing their finances and assets.

Why did the Franciscans of Canada unify under the Holy Spirit Province of Canada?2019-11-13T22:24:27+00:00

Until 2018 the Franciscans of Canada existed as two groups: the Franciscans of Western Canada (Province of Christ the King) and the Franciscans of Eastern Canada (St. Joseph Province). Historically, the two groups have existed as separate entities with two separate administrations.

Over the years the Franciscan Friars across the country have decreased in number and increased in age, and the two groups are no longer permitted to sustain their individual existences, or to function as independent entities. Over the last five years they have worked toward a unification of human and corporate resources.

On October 22, 2018, the two groups joined their human and corporate resources with a single administration through the creation of the new “Holy Spirit Province of Canada”, which consists of a Provincial Minister and his Council (also known as His Definitory). The Amalgamation also allows for the two groups’ corporate status and legal holdings to be joined together under the same Provincial Minister and Council, and Board of Trustees.

For more information about the Franciscans of Canada, please visit: http://www.franciscanfriars.ca/

How is the Holy Spirit Province looking ahead to its presence and its ministries in Canada?2019-11-13T22:25:06+00:00

Since the Province’s unification of western and eastern friars in October 2018, there has been an assessment of personnel, of care for retired and infirm friars, of vocational outreach, demographic planning, and a review of present and possibly future ministries.  Along with the union, there has been a legal review of corporate structure, as well as a review of internal administrative and operational matters.  Change will surely come as it has ever since the Franciscans first appeared in the thirteenth century.

Who owns the lands referred to as the South Lands?2020-06-24T15:13:15+00:00

The Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre and the adjoining lands in the County of Rocky View and the Town of Cochrane (~450 acres in total, identified in red below) are owned by the Franciscans of the Holy Spirit Province, and entrusted by them to their Apostolic Trustees.

Approximately 160 acres are located within the Town of Cochrane (The “South Lands”) and approximately 310 acres (including the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre) are located within Rocky View County.

How were the Mount Saint Francis lands acquired?2019-11-13T22:25:52+00:00

The lands were first purchased from Harry and Marie McConachie in 1949 by Les Syndics Apostoliques des Frères Mineurs ou Franciscains (that is, the Apostolic Trustees).  Because the Federal Government did not recognize the Quebec Corporation of Apostolic Trustees in 1949, the property was held in trust for the Franciscans, for a short time, by Mr. Claire Côté, the Franciscan’s realtor and agent, and the Bishop of Calgary.  In 1952, when Les Syndics Apostoliques were legally recognized in all of Canada, the land became the official property of the Franciscans.

Many people recreate on the South Lands and enjoy hiking, walking, observing wildlife and the panoramic views, and may or may not understand the lands are privately owned. Are the South Lands currently legally available for public use?2019-11-13T22:26:00+00:00

The Holy Spirit Province of Canada recognizes the special nature of their lands and understands that many people use the lands today. The Franciscans have not prohibited access to the lands and have quietly overlooked respectful recreational use of the lands to date. One of the five guiding principles the Franciscans are following as they explore potential alternative uses for their lands is “Improving mobility and access” and are therefore seeking opportunities to legally permit public access to the South Lands.

Why is the Holy Spirit Province of Canada pursuing an Area Structure Plan for the South Lands?2019-11-13T22:26:34+00:00

The unification of the two Provinces (the east and the west) into one national body in November 2018 brought about the strategic review and visioning for the Franciscans across Canada. This includes an assessment of all its physical assets, including its land holdings across the country.

In consideration of current and long-term municipal, regional, and provincial planning initiatives proposed adjacent to the Franciscans’ land, and in consideration of the upcoming improvements to the Highway 1A/22 intersection, the Franciscans wish to ensure they can manage their own lands in the years and decades to come. They recognize the importance of planning for their own future rather than being planned for and planned around, and subsequently having to live with the consequences of these other plans which could negatively impact their South Lands.

An ASP will help the Franciscans further understand the capabilities of the South Lands and provide statutory certainty for the Holy Spirit Province of Canada if they wish to pursue alternative purposes for the land at some point in the future.

Is the motivation to create a plan for the South Lands financially driven?2020-06-24T15:30:18+00:00

The Canadian Franciscans are evaluating all their physical assets throughout Canada as they envision the future of their ministries. This occurs as friars age, as fewer men enter the Order, and as the ministries they once provided change. The Franciscans want to assure themselves of the greatest flexibility for the future uses of these physical assets. The South Lands ASP puts forth the possibility of a complete community, near to the centre of town, which is in accord with the Town’s own plans for sustainability and green space planning.

The Franciscans have no intentions to pursue any immediate changes within the South Lands. Their primary motivation to advance this ASP it to establish land use certainty for these lands should the Franciscans ever decide to divest their interest in the lands.

Is there an intent for the Franciscans to sell their lands, and is there a developer involved at this point?2019-11-13T22:26:59+00:00

There is no intention to sell the lands and there are no developers involved in the Area Structure Plan process.

From the three Scenarios presented to Town Council on June 24 in the Franciscans’ Community Enhancement Evaluation, how was the decision made to proceed with the ‘complete residential community’?2019-11-13T22:27:12+00:00

The three scenarios, originally requested by Town Administration and approved by Town Council on June 24, 2019, were brought to the friars at large for their deliberation in August 2019.  Their recommendation was to proceed with the complete residential community concept, Scenario C.  That recommendation from the friars was then brought to the Provincial Minister and Council of the Holy Spirit Province for further discussion.  The Provincial Council members approved this in September 2019 and subsequently gave direction to its Ad Hoc Committee to proceed with an Area Structure Plan application.

Why did the Franciscans decide to pursue a complete residential community on the South Lands as opposed to any other use?2019-11-13T22:27:33+00:00

Since the Area Structure Plan will be a legally binding agreement, if the process continues beyond the ASP to its ultimate end, the Franciscans decided that the highest and best use would permit them maximum development flexibility, the greatest opportunity to contribute to a community concept that will benefit as many as possible, and the possibility to reflect aspects of their spiritual values.

Does an ASP legally assure the Town of Cochrane that it can attain the right to provide public access for its residents to Cochrane Big Hill?2019-11-13T22:27:45+00:00

The Franciscans trust that the Town will find it rewarding to participate in an ASP process.  This could allow for land reserve allocations to be dedicated to the Town, in perpetuity, which would permit their citizens to have public access, walking and cycling trails, gathering places, and the like.  This collaboration would help the Town to realize its 2014 Master Open Space Plan, which already envisioned such a use for the Big Hill.

Are the Franciscans and the Ad Hoc Committee aware of the existing traffic concerns on 4th Avenue?2019-11-13T22:34:31+00:00

The Franciscans have learned about the existing traffic conditions on 4th Avenue through discussions with homeowners and education and recreation service. These stakeholders are frustrated with the single access from their communities and institutions onto Highway 1A and into downtown Cochrane. We have heard that adjacent communities would not support an application that would put additional traffic on 4 Avenue. Improving mobility is one of the Franciscans’ guiding principles throughout this process, and therefore they will be looking at creating and enhancing mobility improvements for the 4th Avenue communities throughout this process.

Do the Franciscans support the re-opening of Retreat Road to alleviate traffic concerns on 4th Avenue?2019-11-13T22:37:14+00:00

No. Retreat Road will remain closed to preserve peace and tranquility at the Retreat Centre and for neighbours along Retreat Road.

Are you considering the impacts of the upcoming planned twinning of Highway 1A and the Highway 22 interchange, and the eventual twinning of Highway 1A through Cochrane?2019-11-13T22:29:08+00:00

Yes. The Holy Spirit Province of Canada’s Ad Hoc Committee and the planning consultant (B&A Planning Group) have been in contact with Alberta Transportation as they are a key stakeholder in the ASP process. The Committee has requested regular updates from Alberta Transportation to ensure their planning is in alignment with any work taking place adjacent to the South Lands.

How does this plan align with the Franciscans’ values of environmental preservation?2020-06-24T15:40:34+00:00

The Franciscans recognize the tangible and intangible value of the Cochrane Big Hill. Honoring the site and the history and heritage of the lands is one of the guiding principles established by the Franciscans that the ASP will be expected to adhere to.

The South Lands ASP is a proposed concept that:

  • respects the Franciscan’s appreciation of the environment by the dedication of approximately 100 acres (almost 60%) of reserve lands to the Town of Cochrane to fulfill its long term  plans, including the Town’s Open Spaces Master Plan, Sustainability Plan, Municipal Development Plan, and Growth Management Strategy;
  • shows a concern for a sense of equality offering a variety of housing possibilities available to people of different economic means and giving a greater opportunity for all to enjoy natural beauty, recreational facilities, and the possibilities of living close to the heart of downtown Cochrane; and
  • considers the community and presents, through land dedication, possible solutions to beautify the westerly entrance into Cochrane, to alleviate traffic congestion, and to provide greater safety for a neighbourhood of three schools, a public arena, a church and approximately 300 residences.
Respecting the Franciscans’ environmental stewardship to date, are they considering the potential impacts development of the lands would have on wildlife and the natural environment?2019-11-13T22:29:19+00:00

The Franciscans understand that there are several species that frequent these lands or call them home. As stewards of this land for over 70 years with environmental justice as a core tenant of the Franciscan mission, mitigation strategies will be implemented throughout the ASP project to ensure minimal impact on the wildlife and vegetation in the area.

Will the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre remain in its current location?2019-11-13T22:29:43+00:00

Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre is a holy site and vitally important to the Franciscan order. The Franciscans have been an integral part of Cochrane for 70 years and hope to stay for many more.

How can I stay informed about the MSF South Lands ASP project and the 70-year celebration of the Retreat Centre?2021-03-20T00:08:26+00:00
Who is preparing the ASP and has it been submitted to the Town of Cochrane?2020-06-24T15:16:04+00:00

The applicant for this ASP is the Order of Friars Minor, known as the Franciscans of Canada, who are the owners of the lands.  The ASP document and all supporting concept planning, technical reporting, and public engagement activities have been created or supervised by B&A Planning Group. The Franciscans approve all work completed by B&A.

It is anticipated that the ASP will be submitted to the Town of Cochrane, the approving administrative authority for ASP submissions, for internal review in mid-July.

Will the Ad Hoc Committee make the geotechnical and transportation technical reports publicly available?2020-06-24T15:36:00+00:00

The geotechnical and transportation reports are in draft form and have not yet been presented to, reviewed, verified, or endorsed by Town administration. Once the Town has completed its review of the technical studies and the Town administration agrees, the Ad Hoc Committee will have no objection to making those documents public.

The Town does not need more development2020-06-24T15:37:26+00:00

The ASP is a proposal for the possible future development of privately-owned land. With the proposal of a complete community on the bench lands, comes the dedication of almost 100 acres of environmental reserve lands to the Town of Cochrane, which would support the development of recreational open spaces, pathways and multi-modal trails.

This proposal harmonizes with the Town’s Open Space Master Plan and Sustainability initiatives which would permit legal entry onto lands that are currently private property. This proposal further makes possible the alleviation of traffic congestion arising along Highway 1A by the dedication of transportation rights of way.

Understanding slope stability issues with adjacent communities, is the Cochrane Hill stable for development?2020-06-24T15:38:22+00:00

A preliminary Geotechnical investigation was prepared by an engineering firm in support of the ASP. A total of 28 boreholes were advanced and soil samples were sent to a lab for testing. The flat bench lands located on the South Lands have been extensively studied and reveals strata of coarse and final gravels and very limited and almost non-existent presence of plastic clays.

The Geotechnical investigation concluded that the lands appear suitable for the intended development as contemplated by the ASP. The report provided specific recommendations regarding best practices to mitigate the minimal amount of plastic soils evident within the land (including the removal of high plastic clays during the future process of preparing the land through grading). It is made clear in the report that, prior to any future development occurring on the site, additional Geotechnical work will be required to ensure the safety of the lands. The lands will be further investigated at future potential planning phases.

Would the Franciscans consider preserving 100% of the land or donating it to the Town of Cochrane or a nature preservation organization?2020-06-24T15:42:42+00:00

Although the Franciscans live simply and have a charitable status with the Federal Government, they are not sustained by charitable donations, but by the services they offer, the good works they do, and the wise management of their assets.

Any commercial economic proceeds from any possible future development of the South Lands, after the gifted dedication of almost 100 acres to the Town of Cochrane, will be entrusted to the Trustees of the owners and used to care for their needs and sustain their ministries throughout Cochrane, Alberta and the rest of Canada in the future.

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