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Banff cannabis retail location appealed

BANFF – An appeal has been filed over approval of a cannabis store in Kirby Lane Mall on the 100 block of Banff Avenue.
Pot Photo Illustration
One of five cannabis retail locations given the green light by the Town of Banff’s Municipal Planning Commission earlier this year lost its development permit after a successful appeal to the development appeal board.

BANFF – An appeal has been filed over approval of a cannabis store in Kirby Lane Mall on the 100 block of Banff Avenue.

Leslie Taylor, a former Banff mayor and councillor, argues that not all aspects of the so-called variance test were met in the approval of a development permit to allow a use in the mall’s basement to change from a hairdressing salon to a cannabis shop.

Banff Cannabis Inc., a locally owned and operated company, was granted a variance last month by the Municipal Planning Commission given the property is less than the 100 metre distance required from a daycare – in this case, Banff Rundle Playschool is 94 metres away.

Taylor said the variance is indeed minor and the proposed development conforms to the use allowed for the building, but that’s only two of the four pillars of the variance test she believes were met.

“The administration report shows that the use of neighbouring properties will be affected by the granting of this variance,” wrote Taylor in her appeal documents.

“It also makes it clear that there is no unique characteristic of the lot and that the appearance of the development will not be positively affected by granting the variance.”

Because the land use bylaw is developed through such a rigorous public process, and because the bylaw is so fundamental to the function and appearance of the community, Taylor said all Banffites are entitled to expect that development approving authorities will vary from their provisions only after all pillars of the variance test have been met.

“As a Banffite, I am personally affected when this is not done, because, like all of us, I rely on the appropriate functioning of our development process,” she said.

An appeal board hearing is set for April 11.

“We always encourage applications to come forward with variance-free applications as they are often the most defensible,” said Darren Enns, the Town of Banff’s development services manager.

The intent of the 100-metre separation is that limiting visibility and proximity of cannabis stores to properties intended for youth, any potential impacts of access and normalization are limited.

The bylaw also requires a separation distance of 30 metres between storefront cannabis store premises.

Administration’s report to MPC indicated that by granting a variance to allow a cannabis retail store at 119 Banff Ave., it would affect the ability of properties within 30 metres of this premises to apply for this use.

“In this respect, approving this development would seemingly affect the use ... of neighbouring properties,” according to the report.

Four other cannabis retail stores have been given the green light in Banff.

A cannabis store was approved at the former Great Canadian Dollar Store location at 203 Bear St., while further south on Bear Street, Starbuds plans to offer retail at its Compass Cannabis Clinic location in the basement of the Lux Cinema building.

Westleaf Retail has been given the green light to open up in the former Hoodoo Lounge nightclub, while Alcanna Cannabis Stores plans to operate out of the former Internet café in the basement of the Sundance Mall.