Banff’s Development Appeal Board has overturned a decision to not allow real estate services as a home occupation.
DAB chairperson Philip Carmody said additional information provided by applicant Jon Bjorgum showed community support for his company, Rockies Realty, to be operated as a home occupation.
“Because of evidence supplied today, specifically support from the condo association, the Development Appeal Board upholds the appeal and directs granting of a home occupation permit,” Carmody said.
He added the board strongly recommends the definition of home occupation be reviewed as part of the Land Use Bylaw rewrite currently underway.
Planner Claire Wilkinson commended Bjorgum for demonstrating the application can meet all the requirements of the Land Use Bylaw for a home occupation.
However, she directed the board towards the section of the bylaw that sets out it should only be granted if the use is not more appropriately located in a commercial area.
“Home occupations should not be permitted if the Municipal Planning Commission felt it would be more appropriate in a commercial district,” Wilkinson said.
Bjorgum acknowledged his application went in front of the Municipal Planning Commission before he received a letter of support from his condo association.
In addition to that letter, he supplied approximately 50 signatures of support from people in the community for real estate services to receive approval as a home occupation.
“Mine is a startup business that does not require commercial space,” Bjorgum said. “The commission said this activity is more appropriate in a commercial district and I question that.
“In the past, that has been the case… but things have changed a great deal, even in the last five years of real estate.”
He pointed to statistics that show 85 per cent of people purchasing property have already done their homework on the internet before contacting an agent.
He said the typical activities involved in real estate, other than property management which he would not be doing, does not need a commercial location and can all be accomplished through a virtual office.
Bjorgum said contact with his customers is done by phone or email and if he needs to meet a client in person, that is done at a café, restaurant or at their home.
He also said home occupations as an issue in Banff need to be addressed.
“How do (home occupations) fit into the economy of Banff in relation to commercial buildout?” he asked. “Rents are going to remain high and likely rise beyond affordability for office businesses like mine.
“To create a sustainable economy for small office type businesses, the sole possibility is a home occupancy.”