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Banff cannabis store approved for the second time by Municipal Planning Commission

A slanted wall and a filled in window are among some of the creative ways Banff Cannabis Inc. were able to bypass previous violations of the land use bylaw and so-called variance test.
A slanted wall and the removal of a window are among the creative changes Banff Cannabis Inc. presented. TOWN OF BANFF

BANFF – A previously skunked cannabis store location granted a development permit earlier this year in Banff has been relit.

A slanted wall and a filled-in window are among some of the creative ways Banff Cannabis Inc. was able to meet rules associated with cannabis stores, including being at least 100 metres away from a daycare.

“The new store location is at the same address (119 Banff Ave.), but in a different premises,” said Emma Sanborn, a development planner for the Town of Banff, in an email.

“The slanted wall is a result of following the 100 m separation distance from Rundle Playschool quite closely.”

In April, the Development Appeal Board upheld an appeal from former mayor and councillor Leslie Taylor who argued the Municipal Planning Commission failed to abide by all rules in place. Specifically, Taylor pointed out it would be allowing the cannabis company to be within 94 m of a daycare where a 100 m separation distance is required by municipal legislation.

The 6 m violation led to the board concluding the variance test under incorporation agreement was not fully met and Banff Cannabis Inc. was unable to go through with their plans at that time.

“We are obligated to follow the law as written,” said David Bayne, chair of the DAB, earlier this year.

Michelle Garbert, president as well as one of four founders of Banff Cannabis Inc., said while she and her business partners, including two of her siblings, were disappointed with the initial appeal, they understood the requirement to follow Banff's guidelines.

“Those are the rules and they were correct in not supporting the development permit,” she said. “We wanted to work within the setbacks so that it wasn’t interfering with anyone else, make it work with the space and with the town.”

During the Banff Planning Commission meeting last Wednesday (Aug. 14), Sanborn presented the revised application which would see the cannabis storefront 133 m from Central Park, 341 m from Banff Community High School and exactly 100 m from the daycare at Rundle United Church.

“You can see that the premises design is greatly informed by that 100 m that reaches from the daycare,” said Sanborn during her presentation to the commission.

“I’ll just add that this was the second envision of the plans… We’ve revised the application for 100 m and change.”

The change of premises and the renovations would instead see the cannabis retail location with a slanted wall to enforce that 100 m distance.

“The bylaw does specifically say that it comes from the property line of the property that hosts the daycare or school but goes to the premises,” said Darren Enns, director of planning and development for the Town of Banff during the Wednesday (Aug. 14) meeting, joking he’d “never seen a wall like this in his life.”

“That’s why the premises is key, is that you actually measure to the demising wall of the interior and not to the lot and that’s why this design has been so driven by that, I think it's fair to say fear of asking for a variance to achieve more rational solution to how this layout would look."

As well, a lane-facing window at the back of the building will be replaced with stucco wall that matches the exterior of the building as per the land use bylaw, which indicates that a storefront cannabis retail premises shall not contain a window facing a sidewalk.

“In terms of windows facing the lane … we see the current window at the back of the premises facing the lane, we propose renovations will result in this unit not having a window – a stucco wall is being proposed,” said Sanborn.

Councillor Corrie DiManno made motion to approve the development permit application for proposed change of use of storefront and retail.

“I think that when we wrote this legislation and regulations around cannabis, we knew that the commercial sector was going to have to be creative with their location because of the guidelines that we wrote around this,” she said during her motion.

“I think that this is a great example of being creative with that and so I appreciate the way that you thought this through.”

Garbert said the process has been an emotional one but that she and her family tried to remain positive.

“It was hard, yes, I just wanted to move forward positively and just make it work, which we’ve done,” said Garbert. “I’m so excited with our new space – it’s small, but workable and no variances required.”

While there’s comfort in the motion passing through, Garbert said they aren’t in the clear yet.

“Everyone’s happy – as long as we’re not appealed again,” she said.

As of Thursday (Aug. 22), as per law, anyone who wishes to appeal the change of use from general retail to storefront cannabis retail at 119 Banff Ave has 14 days to do so.

For more information on any approved Development Permits within the Town of Banff, visit their website at

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