The Holy Spirit Province of Canada and its Ad Hoc Committee have begun the formal process of obtaining statutory certainty for the future of their “South Lands” within the Town of Cochrane.

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.


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 (as referenced by the aerial photograph in red); approximately 310 acres within Rocky View County, upon which the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre is located, and approximately 140 acres of land (the black lined red overlay portion) which is located within the Town of Cochrane limits.

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 140 acres of hillside and bench lands, calling it the “South Lands”.  The initial investigations and their outcomes and actions are summarized below.

Project History


MSF South Lands Ad Hoc Committee formed to assist the Franciscans in exploring options to provide statutory certainty over the South Lands


Preliminary technical studies of the land

Project awareness campaign and preliminary engagement with adjacent landowners, neighbours and the community at-large

June 24, 2019

Community Enhancement Evaluation (CEE) Presentation to Town of Cochrane

August 19, 2019

Western Canadian Friars discussed and reviewed development scenarios to determine a strategic path forward for the land

September 18, 2019

Provincial Council (the governing authority of the Franciscans and owners of the South Lands) met to review and affirm these desires

September 19, 2019

Direction provided by Holy Spirit Province of Canada to pursue an Area Structure Plan (ASP) for the MSF South Lands.
Click HERE to learn about the vision for the future of the lands.

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.

March 2020 Update:

Since distributing the Engagement Summary from our most recent public engagement sessions on November 2, 2019, the Committee has begun drafting the Area Structure Plan (ASP) for the South Lands. This process continues to involve many internal discussions and examinations, and ongoing technical studies.

The Committee remains committed to hosting another public engagement session prior to submitting the draft ASP to the Town of Cochrane. Out of an abundance of caution and respect to our neighbours during these difficult times, the date for this session has not yet been set. As we near completion of the draft ASP, we will assess the landscape of the public health situation and determine the most appropriate approach to conducting our engagement.

The Committee will ensure ample notice is provided once details are confirmed.

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.

*Timeline subject to change


Project materials including presentations, engagement summaries and news articles will be posted here. Be sure to check back regularly.

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

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