The number of bed and breakfast homes allowed in Banff will be regulated by a quota system if a district is ever maxed out, despite arguments to move to a first-come, first-served system.
Town of Banff administration had recommended doing away with the lottery system outlined in the existing Land Use Bylaw in favour of what they believed would be a more simplistic first-come, first-served system.
“We haven’t hit the quota in any district yet and we’ve never even come close,” said Randall McKay, the Town of Banff’s planning and development manager, at a June 11 council meeting.
“Because of that, there’s never been a need for a lottery.”
In the event the number of B&Bs has been reached but not exceeded within a district, the bylaw presently states the Town of Banff would advertise there is an available, unallocated space.
If more than one application is received, a lottery system would be triggered. But the reality is that no district has been maxed out and licences are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis, provided they meet all approvals.
Under administration’s proposed rewrite of the bylaw, they wanted to do away with the lottery system altogether and just stick completely with a first-come first serve basis.
But council has unanimously voted to reinstate the language around what happens when the B&B quota is met in any given district where B&Bs are allowed.
“I don’t think first-come, first-served is a fair means of allocating a scarce opportunity if a district is ever maxed out,” said Councillor Leslie Taylor.
“That would mean the first person to just happen to hear about an opening could apply.”
Coun. Chip Olver also voiced support for sticking with the current lottery system should the need ever arise.
“It does make it clear to people who would like to get into a bed and breakfast operation when their district is maxed out,” she said.
“It lets people know it will be advertised and notification sent out. There won’t be a missed opportunity for people with an interest in opening a B&B.”
Coun. Stavros Karlos initially indicated support for a first-come, first-served system, but in the end voted to keep the existing lottery system wording in the bylaw.
“A lottery system leaves too much to chance,” he said. “If we want to encourage people to run high quality B&Bs, a lottery would diminish the likelihood of individuals investing significantly.”
But Coun. Taylor said she was unsure if council ought to be in the business of promoting purpose-built bed and breakfast operations.
“I wasn’t aware council was in the business of encouraging purpose-built B&Bs with room rates that are approaching that of the Banff Springs Hotel, which we do have,” she said.
“Is that really where we’re trying to go with this bylaw?” she said, adding she thought the purpose of B&Bs was to offer guests a more personal experience when visiting Banff.
But Town administration officials say that was a vision of the B&B experience, but over time B&B homes have evolved to become more professionally operated.
They say there are at least three custom-built B&Bs in town, where the former homes were torn down and new homes were built with a much more sophisticated floor plan with a B&B operation in mind.
“They’ve evolved into making bigger investments and to becoming more sophisticated,” said Darren Enns, senior planner with the Town of Banff and point man on the bylaw review.
The Land Use Bylaw is the Town’s primary regulatory tool for bed and breakfast operations. B&Bs are discretionary uses under the land use bylaw, meaning they require the approval of the Municipal Planning Commission.
Council has passed second reading of the amending Land Use Bylaw. They are expected to consider third and final reading next Monday (June 25).