Over the last several years, The Holy Spirit Province of Canada and its Ad Hoc Committee have been working to determine a path forward for approximately 158 acres of land owned by the Franciscans within the Town of Cochrane, entitled the “Franciscan South Lands”.

This initiative will establish an alternate purpose for the lands through the development of an Area Structure Plan (ASP) and an application to amend the Municipal Development Plan (MDP).

This website will be the primary source for project information, including updates and engagement opportunities for the MSF South Lands ASP activities.

On October 13, 2020, the Ad Hod Committee submitted the draft ASP to the Town of Cochrane, initiating Administration’s internal review of the application and technical studies. 

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In November 2018, the Franciscan Friars of western and eastern Canada united to become the Holy Spirit Province of Canada.  This unification brought about the strategic evaluation of all of the national assets including its real estate and land holdings.  The Franciscans own approximately 450 acres of land within Rocky View County and the Town of Cochrane. Approximately 160 acres of this land contains hillside and bench lands within the Town of Cochrane, and is referred to as the “South Lands”.

The Holy Spirit Province formed an Ad Hoc Committee, made up of Friars, B&A Planning Group and  a lay program advisor to the Franciscans, to examine these 160 acres of hillside and bench lands, calling it the “South Lands”.  The initial investigations and their outcomes and actions are summarized below.

Upon undertaking extensive technical analysis, a multi-phased engagement program, and many internal discussions within the Holy Spirit Province of Canada, the Ad Hoc Committee was provided direction to pursue an Area Structure Plan (ASP) for the South Lands to obtain statutory certainty and to assist the Franciscans in determining their future place within the Town of Cochrane and surrounding Region.

Project History

Moving Forward

Understanding the historical, technical and environmental sensitivities associated with the South Lands, the Ad Hoc Committee, with support from B&A Planning Group, is conducting an integrated communications and engagement program to provide transparent information and opportunities for stakeholders and the public to participate in a substantive ASP engagement process.

Click to learn about the planning process
Click to learn about engagement opportunities


The Town of Cochrane’s planning process identifies the tools required to establish statutory certainty for future development of privately-owned land:

While an ASP typically precedes land development, the Franciscans have no immediate plans to develop their lands, but are rather seeking to formalize future land use opportunities within their lands.

Town of Cochrane’s Planning Process:

What is an Area Structure Plan?

An ASP is the highest level of planning document for a community, identifying:


The Holy Spirit Province of Canada has provided direction to the Ad Hoc Committee to pursue an Area Structure Plan that includes:

  • A thoughtfully-placed residential neighbourhood within the “bench” of the South Lands
  • Open space and connections in response to the Town of Cochrane’s Open Spaces Master Plan (2012) to allow access to the existing privately-owned land by all
  • Environmental preservation through environmental reserve areas
  • Improved mobility and enhanced access to the land for all modes of transportation
  • Community amenities for the Town of Cochrane that are in accord with Franciscan values and mission, and sustainable neighbourhood design
  • Focal points to provide views and vistas for all to enjoy
  • Acknowledgement of the historical and spiritual significance of the land

Guiding Principles

As owners of the land for the past 70 years, the Franciscans of Canada and Ad Hoc Committee recognize the tangible and intangible value of the land, and will be guided by the following principles as an Area Structure Plan is developed:


With recent direction from the Holy Spirit Province of Canada to pursue an ASP for the South Lands and an amendment to the MPD, the Ad Hoc Committee is undertaking a robust engagement program to facilitate collaboration with Town Administration and Council, key local and regional stakeholders, neighbours and the community at-large to help develop a plan for the South Lands that benefits all.

June 2020 Online Engagement

The Franciscans of the Holy Spirit Province of Canada, through their Mount St. Francis (MSF) South Lands Ad Hoc Committee, have completed the draft Area Structure Plan (ASP) for their ~160 acres within the Town of Cochrane, entitled the “MSF South Lands”.

An online survey was available from June 15-30, 2020 to collect input from the community prior to submitting the ASP application to the Town of Cochrane. 995 surveys were completed. The Ad Hoc Committee has now produced an engagement summary, which has been distributed to the email subscriber list.

View the information package and engagement summary below.

View responses to FAQ received throughout the online survey HERE.

Thank you for your interest in the project and for participating in the online engagement program.

Information Package

September 2020 Engagement Summary

Click the image to view the summary.

Neighbour & Public Meetings | November 2019

On November 2, 2019, the Ad Hoc Committee held a Neighbours Meeting as well as a Public Meeting to share the direction and vision for the South Lands and collect feedback that will be considered while drafting the ASP and MDP amendment.

Both meetings were held at the Cochrane Lions Club Event Centre. Approximately 45 neighbours attended the 11 a.m. meeting and approximately 60 members of the public attended the 2 p.m. meeting. A video of the presentation and online survey were available on the project website for three weeks after the event to collect input from those who were unable to attend the event.

  • View the presentation HERE.
  • View the presentation slides HERE.
  • View the November 2019 Engagement Summary HERE.

Preliminary Engagement | 2018-2019

From 2018 to 2019, the Ad Hoc Committee undertook an educational and preliminary engagement program to share information about the 70-year celebration of the Retreat Centre and to introduce the Franciscans’ desires to explore alternate purposes for the South Lands. This engagement included a public awareness campaign, four stakeholder and neighbours meetings and two public engagement events.

Click HERE to view a summary of this engagement.

Click HERE for news and updates related to the 70 Year Celebration and the MSF South Lands ASP project.

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