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Business owners oppose commercial space division

Banff’s business heavyweights are opposing a proposal to hand out the remaining commercial space based on a merit-based scheme intended to reward development excellence.

Banff’s business heavyweights are opposing a proposal to hand out the remaining commercial space based on a merit-based scheme intended to reward development excellence.

A group of commercial landlords ultimately want the growth cap to be governed by density regulations, but argue any merit-based system to award the remaining space would stifle reinvestment.

However, they say, Brewster favours using a significant portion of the remaining commercial development allotments for a mixed use convention centre and hotel complex.

“We want to avoid any form of ‘merit-based’ review as an additional level of regulation in the allocation of area for commercial development,” the business owners wrote in a letter to council.

“The possible exception would be for a mixed use convention centre and hotel complex.”

The group of businesses is made up of Glacier Holdings Ltd., O.M. Treutler Holdings, Harmon’s Mountain Heritage, Lanmar Enterprises, Bumper’s Inn, Nature’s Coin Group, Banff Caribou Properties, Brewster, Cascade Plaza, and the Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation.

No new commercial buildings can be built in Banff without a commercial development allotment (CDA), traditionally done by way of a lottery since the federal government capped growth in 1998.

While most CDAs have been disbursed, a limited amount remains to be allocated. Also, other CDAs are pending approval and may be built or returned to the Town for reallocation.

The land use bylaw review team believes the time has come to revamp the system with which future allotments are distributed in response to new policy direction in the Banff Community Plan.

But the group of commercial landlords says the Town of Banff should start first by determining who actually wants the remaining commercial development space.

They say this could be done by soliciting interest from those commercial leaseholders with lots currently under the maximum floor area ratio (FAR), as well as those who don’t hold CDAs for those lots.

Once unallocated commercial development potential is determined, they say the remaining CDAs could be allocated out proportionately, essentially giving such leaseholders back as much as possible of what was taken away from them in the first place.

Another option would be to continue with the lottery draws until the remaining CDAs are fully allocated back to commercial businesses, they say.

“The goal should be to get the Town of Banff out of CDA allocations, relying on its density regulations (FAR) to cap floor space,” the businesses wrote.

The Town of Banff is also recommending a system that would allow the transfer of commercial development space between commercial properties.

The review team says transferring of floor space between properties would create a “peer to peer” market for floor space, and may encourage reinvestment.

The group of commercial landlords says they conditionally agree with this concept.

But they say the primary goal should be to convince Parks Canada that the growth cap could be respected through the defined FAR governing each commercial lot.

“If Parks cannot be convinced that the cap can be respected through defined FARS, then full transferability is necessary to ensure maximum use of what they have, flexibility, reinvestment,” they wrote.

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