BANFF – Banff’s politicians are looking to lower the cap on bed and breakfast operations in the community in order to keep more housing for residents.
At a governance and finance committee meeting on Tuesday (Oct. 13), mayor and councillors directed administration to draft a Land Use Bylaw amendment to reduce the number of potential B&Bs to below the existing quota of 65.
Councillor Chip Olver supported the motion, which was based on the impacts that B&Bs have on Banff’s residential housing supply and on sound planning considerations – but with a caveat that some unused spots could be saved for heritage preservation.
“I will support this, but I do think we need to [incentives for] designated heritage and if that was to bring us to 65, I could live with that,” she said.
Under Banff’s Land Use Bylaw, a maximum of 65 bed and breakfast operations are permitted within the townsite. There are also limits to the number of B&Bs in each of the 11 land use districts where they are allowed.
Currently, there’s a total of 50 approved B&B homes and inns. Seven of the 11 land use districts have reached their quota.
A council-struck B&B working group recommended that the overall number of potential B&B licences for the Town of Banff remain at 65.
The Municipal Planning Commission, on the other hand, recommended the overall number of licences remain at – or even below – the existing quota.
Dave Michaels, the manager of development services for the Town of Banff, said the number of B&Bs has fluctuated over time, but there has never been more than there is right now.
“We’re both at the highest number we’ve ever had, but also the most full land use districts we’ve ever had,” he said.
“In fact, I believe it wasn’t until about 2015 that we had our first full land use district.”
Coun. Grant Canning supported council considering lowering the quota.
“I have no issue at all looking at lowering this number because it’s never really been a big issue,” he said.
While Coun. Corrie DiManno initially indicated support for MPC’s recommendation, she later supported looking at lowering the cap, which she didn’t believe would ever be reached anyway.
“Absolutely, housing over everything,” she said.
“In this conversation, it’s always about leaving an opportunity for residents to do B&B homes, but given the conversation we’ve just had, I am happy with this.”
The B&B working group and MPC also both recommended that council consider allowing transfers of quota spots to full districts, by removing available spots from less popular districts.
MPC had no problem with that, but also recommended that should amendments to the current allocation quota occur, then new district limits only apply to new applications and not previously approved applications.
The governance and finance committee resumes its meeting on Thursday (Oct. 15). The issue of transferring quota spots, as well as reintroducing physical separation between B&Bs, recommendations will be discussed and debated then.
Mayor Karen Sorensen said the direction the governance and finance is giving administration is the framework for drafting amendments to the bylaw.
“We are a long way from passing a bylaw,” said Sorensen, adding there will be a chance for public input during a public hearing when council considers the bylaw.