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Banff adds more detail to the development permit process

BANFF – The Town of Banff is hoping to make it easier for the public to access details about proposed developments in the community.
development permits banff

BANFF – The Town of Banff is hoping to make it easier for the public to access details about proposed developments in the community.

Efforts by Banff’s planning and development department to increase the standards of notification, as well as provide details about applications through an online portal were in front of council at the beginning of March.

Development policy planner Emma Sanborn presented options for expansion of an online development permit viewer, as well as various signage options for development permit applications to council at its March 11 meeting.

The permit viewer already exists online, Sanborn said, but there are opportunities to increase the amount of detail available through it.

“Looking at other communities, we saw the opportunity to expand the information we provide on the viewer,” she said.

The added level of detail and feedback options for the viewer, said Sanborn, would take six to eight weeks to change and would cost $4,375 to complete. The improvements include a plain language overview of the application; access to application files; opportunity for feedback, timeline for decisions and the ability to sign-up for email updates to follow the status of an application.

Banff also has a page on its website where residents can sign up for notifications that includes development permit applications and averages between 100 and 300 subscribers. The development permit viewer, on the other hand, averages two views a day.

Council unanimously supported the improvements, with the mayor saying the value of the increased availability of information for development applications being valuable for the community.

“I think it is phenomenal and it is certainly worth the investment,” said Mayor Karen Sorensen.

The improvements to the online permit viewer came out of a report to council in December, which outlined ways the community receives information about development. In addition, the report to council resulted in Sanborn bringing back recommended changes to the land use bylaw for application notification sign requirements.

Sanborn told council the changes suggested were focused on making development permit application signage more noticeable for the public. Size options were considered and she said adjustments to the small and medium signs would help reduce the amount of waste involved when signs are cut, as it is the development officer who prints them for an applicant.

There was an additional extra large sign option added, she said, and when the development officer believes a significant development permit application requires that level of notification, like Ti’Nu or the new elementary school for example, it would be available.

The size option changes for development permits, however, would require a public hearing before it can go to third reading. Council passed first reading to the bylaw changes and scheduled a public hearing for April 8 at 2 p.m. at the Town Hall.

There was also a new option to mail out postcards to residents adjacent to a proposed development and council ended up supporting a 45-metre radius and asked administration to report back in a year on how effective the new process was.

Councillor Grant Canning expressed concerns additional postcards in a given neighbourhood would be redundant after council changed the size and placement for signage on site and voted against the change.

“There are other ways we can do a better job of making people aware of project without sending postcards through the mail,” he said.

There was an exemption to the process for bed and breakfast renewals, which are required each year by the Town of Banff.

A bylaw amendment that directed where a notification sign should be placed that went to public hearing in January was also presented to council for second and third reading.

Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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