Family-oriented streets in Canmore are a special place. We have been lucky to live on one for 32 years and we enjoy yet another generation of children learning to ride a bike or skateboard or throw a ball. Drivers on our street know the homes with kids at play or pets escaping the yard.
When visitors come, we know they will be greeted and welcomed into one of our local homes. We believe this is “quiet enjoyment in a residential neighbourhood,” as the Canmore bylaw describes. It doesn't mean we don’t sometimes have a house full of teenagers or an occasional loud party, but the party ends, the teenagers grow up, and our neighbours all protect what is important.
Unfortunately, our shared values are challenged by the nightly arrival of unknown tourists heading to new vacation rentals on our street. There is no one to greet these visitors. They are strangers when they drive in and strangers when they drive out. The owners of the home have self-contained kitchenette suites with totally private entrances where tourists come and go at all hours and cleaners go in and out after each departure. The host is a Calgary company, and the owners have little if any interaction with any of it.
There seems to be no real difference from any other short-term kitchenette for rent in Canmore, except its location in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Town planners used their discretion to approve this operation as a bed and breakfast. In fact, it was approved, even though a majority of neighbours formally stated the business had disrupted their quiet enjoyment during its initial year of operation, contrary to the specific language of the bed and breakfast bylaw.
As I recall, there were two policy reasons for allowing a few bed and breakfasts in residential areas. One was to broaden the range of accommodation during Canmore’s early tourism days and the other was to provide extra income for homeowners who wished to host tourists in their homes. These policy reasons no longer exist.
Canmore has lots of visitor accommodation, and council is encouraging anyone to earn extra income in a home by adding a dwelling unit for local residents to rent. The style of bed and breakfast we have observed on our street is just the latest version of lucrative short-term vacation rentals replacing much-needed employee housing.
The neighbourhood spoke loudly in opposition to this application. Our voices should have mattered.
Carmen Colborne and Greg Kletke,