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Omnibus amendments made to Canmore's land use bylaw

“It’s great to clean up these little bits and do it in a more methodical fashion and to understand the land use bylaw is a living document and it changes as we as a community changes."
Town of Canmore
Town of Canmore civic centre

CANMORE – Two dozen revisions were made to Canmore's land use bylaw.

While relatively minor and procedural fixes, the changes clear up aspects and clarify uses such as when to obtain development permits for types of projects, the side yard setback for air conditioners and simplifying definitions for a rooftop terrace.

“It’s great to clean up these little bits and do it in a more methodical fashion and to understand the land use bylaw is a living document and it changes as we as a community changes,” Coun. Joanna McCallum said. “It really turns our mind to how important the land use bylaw is and how certain pieces of it can affect our everyday lives on a high as well as a very molecular level.”

Mayor Sean Krausert also thanked the planning department for being responsive to issues from applicants and helping to make bylaws more clear.

“There’s some really good changes here and I think it goes to show these bylaws are living documents to provide clarity, but also to be fixed when we find something that’s wrong,” he said.

The list of amendments was developed based on staff experiences in processing recent applications and feedback from applicants.

A staff report to council indicated the amendments put forward for consideration of council are intended to be minor.

“Issues identified through the application process that are deemed to require substantive changes to the [land use bylaw] are brought forward as separate applications by administration, as departmental capacity allows," stated the staff report.

The report noted Town staff hope to bring forward omnibus amendments semi-annually as procedural issues come forward. The report also highlighted there are about 60 future amendments in the queue to be addressed.

“We do our best when we’re preparing the omnibus amendments that they are small in nature,” said Lauren Miller, the Town of Canmore's manager of planning and development.

“We do get a legal review of the amendments prior to bringing them forward to council to ensure they are on the right side of the law and not tip-toeing into more consequential amendments by means of an omnibus, so we do try to put the necessary checks and balances in place to ensure we’re not going too far.”

The original omnibus proposal had 25 potential changes, but council removed one at first reading in December.

There were no speakers to the changes, but four written submissions were made. Two were in regards to the air conditioner side yard setback, while the remaining two were for the proposed amendment to the transition industrial district.

Council also approved 19 minor wording and spelling corrections to the master fee schedule that had been given the OK in December. The Subdivision and Development Appeal board also had minor revisions to wording in the meeting records and summary of evidence in its bylaw.

“I’ve seen a lot of work in the last year-and-a-half on administration’s part to align all of our boards and councils and commissions in terms of how they operate and making sure everything is similar, if not the same,” McCallum said.

The discussion also featured the first real lengthy debate among the new council. While the discussion saw disagreement among members of council, Krausert said he was impressed with the debate.

“I’m thrilled by this discussion. … This is actually what should happen, people raise concerns, someone wants to see if we change something," he said. "When we have seven minds approaching this, speaking what they think, then the will of council is what moves forward."

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