BANFF – A fourth heritage home owned by the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation will be forever legally protected from the wrecking ball.
On Monday (Sept. 23), Banff town council passed a bylaw designating the Mackenzie Residence at 202 Beaver St. as a municipal historic resource and approved a $50,000 matching grant to help with restoration and rehabilitation costs for the 1945 building.
Bill Luxton, the foundation’s president and great nephew of Banff pioneer Norman Luxton, said he’s delighted with council’s decision, adding it’s a good news story for heritage in the tourist town.
“We only get one chance,” said Luxton, noting there is an extensive conservation plan to ensure its properties on Beaver Street maintain their heritage identity over time.
“With the intensity of rental accommodations and the prosperity within Banff, which has its pluses and minuses, if we don’t do something now it just won’t be there. When I look around that’s a huge concern.”
The foundation owns several properties from the corner of Beaver Street and Caribou Street to Beaver Lodge, including the Luxton Home, which is an accredited museum, as well as Tanglewood, which is the oldest home in Banff.
Beaver Lodge, Tanglewood and the Eleanor Luxton Residence are designated as heritage resources and protected by municipal bylaw. Now the youngest of the homes, the MacKenzie Residence, is protected too.
The MacKenzie Residence, a one-and-a-half storey single-family residence notably identifiable by its bottle-glass stucco exterior among other characteristics, demonstrates historic value for its connection to Flora and George MacKenzie, and the Luxton family.
The home is also considered architecturally significant as representative of the residential character of Beaver Street and as an example of early post-war residential development in Banff.
Darren Enns, director of planning and development, said this legal designation helps council’s strategic goal to increase the number of protected municipal historic resources from 13 to 17 by 2022.
"It’s an exciting day for us,” he said. “Every time we manage to move a property toward municipal protection, it’s certainly a positive step in our minds.”
Councillor Peter Poole, who sits on the Banff Heritage Corporation, applauded the historical foundation for its efforts in protecting treasured heritage properties.
“I’ve watched this evolve over 20 years and this is a huge contribution by a group of volunteers,” he said.
“I think we should all be really, really proud of what this small volunteer organization has done to invest in our town’s heritage.”
The Alberta Historical Resources Act states that if a municipal government passes a bylaw that decreases the economic value of land, council "shall provide compensation."
Enns said because of the compensation clause, municipal heritage resource designation bylaws in Alberta are accompanied with a funding agreement with the property owner.
In Banff, he said financial incentives for designation include grant-in-aid of municipal property taxes and/or matching restoration and rehabilitation grants, provided funding is available within the heritage reserve fund.
Enns said the Eleanor Luxton Historical Foundation requested a matching rehabilitation grant up to $50,000, to be paid out over a two to three-year period. The heritage reserve fund has a current balance of $114,150.
“It is important to note that the foundation would be required to match or exceed the funding offered from the Town of Banff,” said Enns, adding the organization is also applying for provincial grants.
The heritage home will continue operating as a residential rental property, but there is talk of different uses on site in the future.
“It will continue to be rental accommodations, not only for now, but in terms of our master plan for the feasible future,” said Luxton. “Do we add onto it, do we do something on the rest of the property? That’s under discussion.”
Coun. Chip Olver thanked the organization for protecting the property on this “special streetscape” on Beaver Street.
“We have an enclave of heritage in that section of our town and I appreciate the efforts you’re making to preserve it and to bring properties to us for designation,” she said.