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Heritage homes focus for new Banff bed and breakfast regulations

BANFF – Ways to save Banff’s heritage properties are being investigated as part of a review of regulations for bed and breakfast homes.
Historic Home Redevelopment
The historic McLeod/Crosby home located at 137 Lynx Street in Banff is pictured during its redevelopment in November, 2018. The home is being transformed into a bed and breakfast.

BANFF – Ways to save Banff’s heritage properties are being investigated as part of a review of regulations for bed and breakfast homes.

Options could include only permitting new B&Bs in legally designated properties, or those on the heritage inventory, in a bid to encourage investment in heritage properties.

Another idea is to allow a B&B to be owned and operated by a not-for-profit organization without the requirement for a live-in owner at a municipally designated property.

“I think it’s worthwhile to seek stakeholder input on this possibility,” said Councillor Chip Olver, a former member of Banff’s heritage corporation.

“The heritage committee is very sad when there’s a property that is a fabulous heritage resource to the community and is torn down, and rebuilt.”

As more redevelopment to create housing continues to occur, there is a fear there will be ongoing loss of important heritage properties. There’s no new land in Banff, so any development is redevelopment and requires knocking down buildings.

Currently, 13 of the 46 approved B&B properties are located in buildings listed on Banff’s heritage inventory. Only one – Abegweit, also known as the Crosby Residence – has legal municipal designation.

Without designation, there is no legislated protection for recognized heritage properties.

With the land use districts that allow B&B homes, there are 110 buildings on the heritage inventory.

Last year, Banff’s heritage corporation asked council to consider regulations and policies to support B&B home applications, which conserve heritage buildings on the inventory.

“It could be if you designate, you can get a B&B licence, or it could be that the quota in the district is full, but exception would be made for a heritage building,” said Olver. “I’m willing to go out to the public to get feedback on this issue.”

David Michaels, development planner for the Town of Banff, said the existing land use bylaw speaks to variances for B&B properties only with A or B ratings under the old ranking system.

But, he said, the review could lead to options to encourage more people investing in heritage properties. He said one option of removing the live-in-owner requirement for B&Bs located in designated heritage properties.

“It could be an incentive to try to get some of those recognized properties designated,” he said.

“Without designation there’s no protection, but there’s no requirement to designate as council is aware,” he said.

The Town is also beginning development of a heritage master plan.