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SDAB to decide on B&B license, greater concerns expressed on bylaws

What began as an appeal against a new bed and breakfast showed greater concerns with the Town of Canmore’s existing bylaws on the accommodation type.
Town of Canmore
Town of Canmore civic centre

CANMORE – What began as an appeal against a new bed and breakfast showed greater concerns with the Town of Canmore’s existing bylaws on the accommodation type.

In a Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Thursday (March 3), the board heard from several neighbours in the area of MacDonald Place who voiced issues with a licensed bed and breakfast.

But while several concerns were expressed such as traffic, noise and resident safety, Town staff noted its findings showed the bed and breakfast compliant but were open to having further discussions on how those types of accommodations are considered.

“There’s nothing unique about this neighbourhood, this street, that would make it inappropriate for a bed and breakfast,” said Eric Bjorge, a Town planning technician. “When you look at the landscape of bed and breakfasts that have been approved across the landscape of the Town of Canmore distance from services was a point that was brought up, but again, we have no policy on how far a bed and breakfast must be from the nearest commercial area.”

The appeal was brought forward by Greg Kletke and Carmen Colborne, who represented 13 homeowners in the neighbourhood.

Colborne, a former vice chair of SDAB, pointed to Section of the land use bylaw that bed and breakfasts “shall not interfere with the rights of residents.”

“It is the right of residents to quiet enjoyment of their residential neighbourhood. It’s contained in the bylaw about the bed and breakfast, it’s specific to the bed and breakfast,” she said.

“If the only problems with this development were problems Greg and I had, we would not have bothered all of you. But our concerns are shared by our neighbours and they have been since the beginning.”

Nearby landowner Brian Cooke also expressed that he believed the accommodation defeats the purpose of what a bed and breakfast is meant to be.

“The spirit of it is not a B&B. It’s an Airbnb. It’s advertised as such on the Airbnb website. ... If it looks like an Airbnb, it’s on Airbnb, it smells like an Airbnb and I use Airbnb and I don’t see any distinction at all,” he said.

One of the landowners, Doreen Saunderson, argued it was constructed as a bed and breakfast and opened in January 2021. She said they worked with the Town’s planning department to follow the land use bylaw. She said the bed and breakfast is in the basement, while she and Dale Hildebrand reside on the main level.

Saunderson said that no noise complaints had been brought to them and they hadn’t heard from neighbours, despite giving contact information to work out potential conflicts since they “encouraged them to communicate to us any actual concerns, disturbances or interferences they may experience.”

She also welcomed people to go through the process of attempting to change the bylaw and amend the land use bylaw for bed and breakfasts.

Carol Poland, a former past president of the Canmore Bow Valley Bed and Breakfast Association, expressed support for 4Peaks Rocky Mountain B&B at 17 MacDonald Pl.

“If we want to change the bylaws, if we want to amend the bylaws, our association would welcome the opportunity to be a resource and enter into discussion with the Town and the board on how to change the bylaws, but when I review the bylaws you’re currently working under – maybe they’re not perfect, I see wiggle room everywhere – but I know all members of our association, including this 4Peaks bed and breakfast, have been very very compliant.”

The approval of the bed and breakfast was first done in October 2020 by the SDAB. The initial approval of a bed and breakfast is for one year and then following renewals are for a three-year term.

The development officer approved on Jan. 14, 2022. The approval was subsequently appealed, leading to the SDAB hearing. The board will issue a ruling in the coming weeks.

Marcus Henry, the Town’s supervisor of planning and development, noted the SDAB hearing wasn’t the forum to enact changes to Town regulations. However, he highlighted conversations on the issue are welcome by staff and council.

“We just don’t want to make decisions on what we think is right. Community planning is about engaging with the community and creating the community presence we all love.”