The clouds scudded across the sun, making for a strobe light effect as their rays bounced off the triple peaks of the Three Sisters.

Down on the benchland, a piece of tracked heavy equipment with a bucked locked on to it rumbled past us along a rough-cut construction road headed for another housing site.

The spider web of cul de sacs and drives that have spun off the Three Sisters Parkway are now being dotted with construction signs for what is the first - and long-awaited - sign that, in fact the Three Sisters Village could become a reality.

It's been a long time to get to this point. For more than 10 years, the 800-hectare property has been a the center of one conflict or another - partnerships that fizzled, financial deals that flopped and environmental concerns that continue - and all of this has given this latest project a sense of getting it done right.

United Communities' vice-president Chris Kolozetti sat behind the steering wheel of his black truck as the earth-mover rattled by.

"We are working hard at building our relationship with the town; they've been burned before. I prefer doing things on a handshake kind of basis, but they have a "show me" attitude - and you can't blame them,", he was saying.

United is managing development of the project and makes up the project team along with Stantec Consulting, Three Sisters Resorts Inc. and lead partner TGS Properties Ltd.

Through continuing discussions between the town council and members of the Three Sisters team, problems are getting resolved, concerns alleviated and progress allowed to move on to what could be a world-class destination location.

"This is the first step in relationship-building", says Canmore mayor Glen Craig. "There are serious issues; I know they realize this and I'm happy to see the openness and process they've been following."

A group of nine builders is onside with what is expected of them and the product they will be bringing to the marketplace. For most of them, working in this type of environment is something totally new.

Protection of the environment is at the top of the heap of priorities - and this message has been passed on from town officials, to developers and builders as well as their trades and labour people.

"We have a huge, wonderful opportunity - if we do it right. We're going to be very cautious with this, the challenge is to get it done right," says Bill Heidt, president of TGS.

Most definitely that is the challenge. The town, with its fabulous backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, deserves that and more.

There's nothing that looks so bad as a job that has been done without some pride of workmanship.

And in the case of this project, the telling sign of success in this undertaking will be in what was left untouched as much as what will be built.

"As long as they focus on the environment, we'll be all right," Craig says.

I think Mike Butt, vice-president of Swan Group and one of the builders involved in the project, put it right, "We've got to be sensitive to what we do - because after this, there is no more."

In other works, the whole organization has just one chance to do right by the land. Mess it up and it can't be put back the way it was.

Kolozetti says that while the master zoning bylaw approved by the town in 1998 will be followed, it gives maximum densities for residential and commercial/retail development.

In most cases, the realistic densities will be lowered to the point where about 60 per cent of the total land will be left undeveloped, designed as green space and golf courses, or remain wildlife corridors and natural habitat.

As it already is, the Three Sisters Village will continue to progress and grow under the watchful eyes of town officials, townfolk, environmentalists - and the project consortium. As it should be.

Talk about God's country.

Written by: Marty Hope and published in the Calgary Herald.