Council considers historic designation for Hotel

By: Tanya Foubert

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 13, 2014 06:00 am

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Canmore town council is officially considering municipal historic resource designation for the Canmore Hotel.

The designation falls under the Historical Resources Act in Alberta and is a significant protection for the heritage building, and one that comes with compensation to the property owner as a result.

Council directed administration to notify the owners of its intent to consider the designation at the same time it unanimously approved a sustainability screening report (SSR) application for the property to begin the process of obtaining a Land Use Bylaw amendment which would lead to a development permit.

Heritage Property Corporation, owners of the hotel, asked the municipality to designate the 124-year-old building a historic resource and indicated if several concessions, variances and relaxations were approved through the Land Use Bylaw and development permit process, it would waive all right to claim additional compensation in exchange.

“We do intend to designate the building and we intend to do an adaptive re-use,” said Heritage Property Corporation’s Neal Richardson. “In our minds, it is a beneficial contribution to the community.”

In a letter to council, Richardson set out the company is looking for the Town to provide 20 offsite parking stalls in a public parking lot half a block away, a variance on height to allow the addition to the building to reach 2.9 metres above the maximum allowed height of 11 metres, and assistance with municipal property taxes.

“As a municipal historic resource, we will apply for a grant in aid of municipal property taxes from the Town of Canmore, in an amount to be determined based on the associated costs of the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration of the proposed development,” states the letter.

Development planner Patrick Sorfleet told council Land Use Bylaw amendments could be considered compensation as part of the process. Sorfleet said compensation could be a variety of things as long as they are mutually agreeable to the municipality and the developer.

However, he indicated the LUB and development permit process is separate from the one that occurs under the Historical Resources Act.

The historic designation would protect the property from being demolished and also protect historically significant aspects. It also provides heritage oversight for renovations and retrofits.

The HRA provides compensation for designation and loss of economic value and Sorfleet said both parties generally agree upon the terms. However, if terms cannot be met, it can be referred to the Land Compensation Board.

“Those impacts are not understood fully at this time, but it is important to note the intent to designate a property does not trigger financial compensation,” he added.

Heritage Property Corporation is proposing to restore and renovate the hotel, the second oldest to be continuously operated as a hotel in Alberta. The company would use principles set out in Parks Canada’s 2010 Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada to identify and restore important historic and character defining elements of the hotel.

In addition, the company is proposing to build a three-storey addition on the side of the building, to realize a total of 26 rooms for a boutique hotel.


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