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Delegation asks for closed-door bylaw for Canmore

“I walk down Main Street almost every day. A few years ago, it was a couple open doors, and now it is more and more. Why do some businesses feel this is acceptable? What benefit does it bring to their company?”
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Closed doors in the winter could be more common in downtown Canmore if a new bylaw passes. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO⁠

CANMORE – A regional organization is asking Canmore council to look at potentially introducing a closed door bylaw for the town.

The Bow Valley Clean Air Society (BVCAS) appeared in front of Canmore council June 7 with the ask for council to possibly bring in a closed door bylaw, which they said would help lower greenhouse gas emissions in the community.

According to the BVCAS, greenhouse gas emissions associated with open doors on the Main Street of Canmore equals 32 tonnes per year. This is equivalent to the emissions released by 53 return flights from Calgary to Toronto, or $5,600 of wasted energy per year.

The problem of open doors in the winter also appears to be getting worse.

“I walk down Main Street almost every day. A few years ago, it was a couple of open doors, and now it is more and more,” said Coun. Wade Graham. “Why do some businesses feel this is acceptable? What benefit does it bring to their company?”

Banff recently adopted a closed-door bylaw, running from the Tuesday after Thanksgiving Day to the last Friday in April. Doors can open when the temperature is above 10 degrees Celsius.

The BVCAS proposed an effective bylaw would run from early September to early June, with 15 degrees Celsius as the recommended temperature for opening doors.

Council asked if air conditioning in the summer would be an issue, but they were told that air conditioners are more efficient at reducing temperatures relative to heating with a furnace.

“I am one of those dads who says keep the door closed when the AC is on,” Graham said. “Is there any thought to not a time or temperature period, but when there is an air conditioning or heating unit being employed, the doors are closed.”

Council was told that this would be too difficult to enforce. One issue with this strategy is that south-facing businesses will have more solar radiation in the winter to heat their business, while north-facing businesses will have more shade in the summer to cool their business. The lack of extreme temperature swings in the summer versus the winter also makes open doors less of an issue.

The BVCAS conducted 11 surveys along Main Street and 10th Street logging open shop doors from March 3-23, 2022. A 12th survey was conducted on a cold day on April 12. Temperatures ranged from -5 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius. Over the course of those 11 surveys, there were 184 incidences of open doors, the majority of which were on Main Street. The BVCAS also found in its survey that stores selling tourist items and galleries were the worst offenders.

Coun. Karen Marra asked if presentations were made to business associations in Canmore such as the Chamber of Commerce, but the BVACS delegation stated they ran out of resources to conduct a larger survey beyond going door-to-door.

Graham felt that it was a perception issue among businesses in keeping doors open to show tourists the business is open.

“I think it is a perception thing that there is some sort of advantage thing,” Graham said. “I also noticed it tends to be south-facing businesses generally.”

Council will address the delegation's ask at its next council meeting on July 5.

CORRECTION: The original version of this story stated Canmore council was considering a closed door bylaw. However, council only accepted it as information and it was only referred to the July 5 council meeting to discuss. The Outlook apologizes for the error.