An ongoing review of Banff's land-use bylaw has come with a controversial recommendation from its review team: a "merit-based" system to dispense remaining commercial development allotments. There is also an emphasis on speed.
Total commercial development in the national park town has long been capped, and a development draw system for remaining space below the cap was introduced in the 1990s.
Most of that space was allocated, but the Town of Banff still has allotments left to distribute, in part because some developers have let their allotments expire.
Now the land-use bylaw review team is suggesting the traditional draw system should be phased out in favour of a merit system that would evaluate proposals on everything from the quality of architecture, urban design and streetscape to environmental performance and "green building" practices under an accredited regulatory system.
Criteria for the merit system would also include how a proposed development would enhance Banff as an authentic mountain community and whether a project would commence within 12 months. Development allotments have been good for five years in the past, and have sat unused at times based on market conditions.
"The review team believes that the current system, which allocates floor space using a lottery, does not do an adequate job of leveraging community goals and objectives. For this reason, the review team is recommending a transition to a merit-based system, which requires applicants to illustrate how new commercial development will help implement the Banff Community Plan," the review team declared on the town's website.
The proposed merit system has drawn some opposition, including from the town's hotel/motel association, whose membership includes businesses interested in new allotments.
from Western Investor June 2011