MPC grants conditional approval for public eyesore
It took the Town of Banff’s municipal planning commission over an hour of in camera discussion, but the group granted conditional approval of a project to redevelop a parcel of land that has largely been viewed as an eyesore in the middle of the downtown core.
The proposed redevelopment, which is located at 204 Wolf Street and is the site of Timbers Food Company Restaurant, is expected to cost over $3.5 million and will have space for one retail unit and two restaurants.
Josephine Tsu is the current property owner and, along with Calgary-based NORR Architects Planners, submitted a development permit application that was reviewed and decided on at the MPC meeting last Thursday (Sept. 20).
“We’re happy with the decision, we still have to meet some of the conditions,” Tsu said following the committee’s decision for conditional approval. “We are hopeful we can come to a point where we both agree.”
According to Tsu, the specific proposal has been two years in the making and has encountered several problems due to the building’s irregular shaped, five-sided polygon layout.
Located at the intersection of Bear Street and Wolf Street, the original developer of the property was unable to come to an agreement with Cascade Plaza in the late ’80s, which resulted in the latter building around the property, creating an awkwardly shaped hole in a highly visible downtown streetscape.
“Any chance to remedy this situation is critical to us,” said Darren Enns, a senior planner for the Town of Banff who presented the committee with the proposal. “We want to see something that completes this vista and honours the intent of our guidelines.”
Some of the key challenges mentioned in the report to committee are the site’s lack of loading facilities for garbage collection and delivery, the inability to provide on site parking, and adequate fire exits.
“The planning department did a very good presentation,” Tsu said. “We’ve tried so many different ways and it hasn’t worked. This one we really like and I think it fit in.”
As part of the conditional approval, MPC made several amendments to the proposal including a modified roof line on the east side of the second floor of the building. The report also noted the building’s tower needs to be wider and not appear “skyscraper-ish.”
The committee motioned to waive variance fees for the site as well as reduce the required parking levy by 25 per cent resulting in the owner paying $529,200 cash-in-lieu fees instead of $705,600.
MPC members, however, did not move for a 25 per cent reduction for cash-in-lieu on the bedroom levy citing Council’s Housing Policy which states the objective of required housing is to “ensure a healthy and balanced community” and “not simply satisfy the housing requirements of a particular project.”
MPC chair David Bayne said the decision to grant conditional approval of this project took such a long time because of its complexity, adding it was “an extremely unique and difficult project to review.
“We argued and debated in great length about to what degree do we move forward given that a perfect solution of this site is never going to come to fruition,” he added. “It’s certainly a big improvement for the project.”
Another meeting has been set for Oct. 10 where the amended plan will again be put before the MPC.
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