A proposal to introduce what they see as a quota system for liquor stores has Banff businesses bent out of shape.
As part of its Land Use Bylaw review, the Town of Banff proposes to define liquor stores as a ‘discretionary use’ instead of a ‘permitted use’, meaning they require approval of the Municipal Planning Commission.
But Darren Reeder, executive director of the Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association (BLLHMA), said the Town if effectively introducing a quota system by defining liquor stores as a ‘discretionary use’.
“We not aware that Banff has been suffering from the effects of too many liquor stores, nor are we aware that the strong provincial laws and penalties that apply to selling alcohol to underage citizens isn’t working in our community,” he said.
“We do not support liquor stores being identified differently than all other retail.”
The issue was raised at a public hearing on Banff’s amending LUB. Council has already passed first reading of the amending bylaw and is expected to consider final readings next Monday (May 28).
Darren Enns, Banff’s senior planner, said one of the areas where administration believes the bylaw could be more effective is in addressing loading and unloading in the downtown core.
“Liquor stores in Banff often function as distribution hubs for liquor retailers, and therefore the delivery volumes to these businesses is often higher than other comparable retail outlets,” he said.
“This can be a challenge if proper loading and unloading facilities aren’t provided. Moving liquor stores to a discretionary category ensures Municipal Planning Commission has the ability to adequately examine this issue.”
The business community has also raised concerns about what it sees as unnecessary limits to home occupations, including limits of only two home occupations per dwelling and limits on weekly vehicle visits.
Enns said when complaints occur around home occupations, they are typically related to vehicle traffic and parking.
“Our current bylaw is vague in terms of how much is too much traffic associated with a home occupation, so quantifying the amount of visits is of great assistance when we are dealing with enforcement,” he said.
Enns said the cumulative impact of multiple home occupations is tied into this.
“It could be assumed that more home occupations at a single location could contribute to increased vehicular activity that may be more appropriately located in a commercial land use district, which remains a core objective of our home occupation regulations.”
But Reeder said these issues should be considered part of a long-range economic strategy for the town.
He said a proposed limit of two home occupations per dwelling is arbitrary at best.
“It is another form of quota system and strikes us as ideological thinking about the community we may be becoming rather than the community we are,” he said.
Reeder said BLLHMA is also concerned about a proposal that indicates there shall be no more than three vehicle visits per week.
“This is yet another form of supply management,” he said.
“Has congestion proven to be that much of an issue among home-based occupations that regulatory language is now needed? Does the Town plan on actively enforcing this restriction?”