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New duplex approved in Banff Spray land use district

“The intent of the number of dwellings at this property, in the context of the land use district, was to provide for the development into duplex. I think this is consistent.”

BANFF – A new duplex was approved by Banff’s Municipal Planning Commission that will complete the redevelopment of the Spray Avenue land use district.

The approved development will see a two-and-a-half storey duplex at 4 Kootenay Ridge constructed as part of the residential Spray Avenue (RSA) land use district.

The RSA land use district has a stated purpose to redevelop the area from single detached homes to duplex housing. It would also fit with the Banff Community Plan to have a mix of affordable housing options in Banff.

A staff report to the MPC noted a duplex is permitted in the district, but the application was referred to the commission by town administration at the discretion of the development officer.

Barb Pelham, a commissioner on the committee, noted the similarities of the proposal to a single detached home despite it being proposed as a duplex.

In response, Dave Michaels, the Town of Banff’s manager of development services, said there are similarities, but the land use bylaw allows for more crossover between the two.

“When that happens, we look at the application and how it fits in the land use bylaw requirements,” he said. “There’s no guidance as to which you would call it, so we typically take the definition the district contemplates most, which in this instance is a duplex since that is a permitted use, whereas a single detached with an accessory is a discretionary use. In that regard, duplex makes the most sense.”

Michaels noted there are certain nuances in the land use bylaw for requirements such as floor area ratio and parking that fit with the two definitions.

“The intent of the number of dwellings at this property, in the context of the land use district, was to provide for the development into duplex,” Michaels said. “I think this is consistent.”

The first duplex unit will be 395 square metres with four bedrooms and the second – located in the basement – will be 61 square metres with one bedroom. The development has a requirement of four parking stalls or two for each duplex.

The property was part of a subdivision approval in 2016, which saw four residential lots created with the proposed being the final lot to be developed. Previous duplex housing was approved in May and October of 2018 and then February 2019.

Several reports since the late 1980s have highlighted the affordable housing issues faced by residents. Banff's rental vacancy rate has sat at zero per cent for most of the last decade, but the most recent Alberta Apartment Vacancy and Rental Cost Survey puts it at about 1.1 per cent.

“It is anticipated that Banff will continue to be challenged by low vacancy rates and the predicted shortfall of housing units remains between 455-730 units,” stated the staff report to MPC.