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Banff mum on franchise regulation

The Town of Banff has received legal advice on whether it is on solid legal footing should it decide to regulate franchise restaurants in the tourist town. That said, officials say they are not in a position to release that information.

The Town of Banff has received legal advice on whether it is on solid legal footing should it decide to regulate franchise restaurants in the tourist town.

That said, officials say they are not in a position to release that information.

The municipality asked its legal counsel what the best regulatory tool would be to accomplish the proposals should council opt to go that route, and how reliable such a tool would be relative to a challenge.

“Council has met with our lawyers and we’ve received their advice and we are taking it under advisement,” said Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen.

“I’m happy we did go down that road and so we have clear direction.”

The municipality is currently proposing regulations around future franchise fast food restaurants in an attempt to regulate chains and to maintain Banff’s mountain town character.

They are suggesting restricting future fast food franchises – like Wendy’s for example – to non-street front locations to create a more memorable visitor experience.

That would mean fast food franchises would be relegated to lower and upper levels of buildings, or to locations that are accessed from back alleys.

A proposed definition of a formula fast-food restaurant has been also amended, so as to not include locally-owned businesses like Aardvarks and Barpa Bills.

The loss of mom and pop shops in Banff and the invasion of national and multi-national chains has long been an issue, but was re-ignited in 2007.

At the time, there was a huge public outcry when Indigo Books announced it was coming to town and was then was cited as being part of the reason the historic Banff Book & Art Den closed its doors.

Currently, the Land Use Bylaw regulates all eating and drinking establishments in the same manner, whether it’s a coffee shop or a nightclub.

Initially, the review team proposed future fast food restaurants be relegated to Cascade Plaza, but now suggest they be restricted to non-street front locations.

Meanwhile, Banffites may be interested to know the City of Calgary is also looking at regulations to make land use changes in some areas of the city.

The City is considering placing a cap on the number of eating and drinking establishments in certain downtown areas to ensure they stay vibrant day and night amid concerns certain the areas are overrun with drinking establishments. The city is looking into activity on both 17th Avenue and First Street SW.

Recently, some Calgarians have been concerned that daytime activity is slowing down, which is why the city’s planners are now studying the issue.

In Banff, other options being discussed include regulating out all formula-based franchise restaurants, like Outback Steakhouse or Milestones, and not limiting the proposed changes to fast food alone.

Yet another option is to ban franchise fast food joints outright, or to continue letting market forces dictate what makes Banff a more attractive destination.


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