BANFF – Banff’s new closed door rules for businesses have seen high compliance rates so far.
The townsite’s community standards bylaw bans businesses from opening their doors from the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend until the last Friday in April, except when the temperature climbs above 10 degrees C.
“Compliance has been amazingly strong and I do want to give a big shout-out to the business community for being so diligent in keeping their doors closed,” said Michael Hay, manager of environment and sustainability for the Town of Banff.
“It’s really important that all businesses do their part because we don’t want to have an unfair situation.”
Over the years, the Town of Banff has received complaints from residents and visitors about businesses propping open their exterior doors in an effort to encourage potential customers to enter the establishment.
This practice was viewed as violating Banff’s vision to be a model environmental community as well as the municipality’s climate action policies, which include reducing greenhouse gases by 30 per cent below 2016 levels by 2030.
In the lead-up to the creation of the closed door bylaw this past spring, a study conducted by Town of Banff staff indicated about 30 per cent of businesses were propping open their exterior doors, with some doing this even when the outside air temperature fell below -25°C.
On Nov. 8, the Outlook noticed three doors were open – a restaurant, a sports store and gift shop.
“Over many years, on cold days in Banff, it has been typical to walk up and down Banff Avenue and other nearby streets, and it could be minus 10 C outside and there’d be 15, 20, 25 doors open of various shops,” said Hay.
“All those open doors on a cold day add up to a lot of heat loss and a lot of energy use, which we don’t want to see in this town that’s supposed to be a model environmental community and doing everything that it reasonably can to tackle climate change.”
Environment Canada was calling for highs of –16 C on Nov. 7, –15 C on Nov. 8 and –10 C on Nov. 9. For now, the Town of Banff continues to focus on education of the new closed door bylaw.
Hay said a staff member has been reminding businesses of the bylaw, noting some businesses have put up signs indicating their doors are closed in order to save energy but their businesses remain open.
Like any other bylaw, Hay said a warning followed by a fine would be given in the event of consistent non-compliance with the seasonal close door rule. The fine is $150.
“But we’re pretty encouraged by the compliance we’ve got so far, and I suspect that non-compliance will be a rare occurrence,” he said.
During debate on the issue last spring, Coun. Grant Canning, who supported the bylaw with the temperature caveat, said some businesses had indicated that targeted air curtains installed above open doors mitigated their energy losses.
He said he plans to bring up a motion during 2023 service review deliberations – which is council’s annual review of all the programs and services the municipality provides – for consideration of a rebate for air curtains under the municipality’s environmental rebate program on top of the existing bylaw.
“I see value in them for sure,” said Canning this week.
Air curtains produce a high velocity stream of air across a doorway that can create a barrier between the inside and the outside of a space.
The barrier is created by the air streams’ ability to resist the differential pressure between the inside and outside of the space, whereby the air blowing from the unit is strong enough to overpower the force of air coming from outside.
Town of Banff officials say if the air curtain is sized and installed correctly and the outside and inside air are not allowed to mix, then installing an air curtain will reduce energy losses and create a more comfortable draft-free environment compared to an open door without an air curtain.
However, they say warm air will still leak out of the open door and cold air will leak into the space through infiltration. This cold air then needs to be brought up to room temperature by the heating system.
“An open door with an air curtain is certainly better than an open door with no air curtain because an air curtain creates an air barrier between the inside and outside that reduces the amount of heat loss,” said Hay. “But neither of them is anywhere as efficient as just having a closed door. An air curtain does not save more energy than just closing the door.”