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Wanted: not-for-profit in Parks building

Parks Canada is looking for a not-for-profit organization to set up shop in its vacant building on Banff Avenue.

Parks Canada is looking for a not-for-profit organization to set up shop in its vacant building on Banff Avenue.

The agency is making the building at 214 Banff Avenue available to not-for-profit organizations for a five-year period under a Licence of Occupation. The Bear & Butterfly retail outlet of the Friends of Banff National Park Fellowship was the last tenant.

Parks Canada denied the Outlook’s request for an interview, but sent an email statement instead. It took two weeks to get the response.

“Parks Canada has identified the 200 block of Banff Avenue for future development of facilities that will enhance the visitor’s experience and connection with Parks Canada in downtown Banff,” Rennée Lamontagne, Parks Canada’s municipal and reality services manager, wrote in the email. “Since the initiative is a long-term objective, in the interim Parks Canada has made the decision to have the building occupied.”

Under a Licence of Occupation, fees are reduced for not-for-profit organizations.

“The fee for the Licence of Occupation at 214 Banff Ave is still to be determined,” said Lamontagne. “Any revenue collected from fees will be retained by Parks Canada for reinvestment in services and facilities in Banff National Park.”

In 1998, Parks Canada announced it would establish an environmental education centre on the 200 block of Banff Avenue by taking back commercial leases and eventually rezoning the area to public service.

A service station has since been demolished and turned into a public park. Parks Canada has decided against taking back the lease of Caribou Corner and it is unclear where negotiations lie with Bow Valley Credit Union.

The 2010 Banff National Park management plan says Parks Canada will continue the assembly of lands on the east side of the 200 block of Banff Avenue for “national park purposes.”

The building at 214 Banff Avenue falls wthin the commercial downtown (CD) land use district. General retail stores, professional services and government services are among the permitted uses. There is also a long list of discretionary uses.

“If it’s retail, they can just open up, but we will wait and see what comes across the table,” said Darren Enns, senior planner for the Town of Banff. “If it’s a change of use, we’ll proceed according to the Land Use Bylaw.”

The application period for the licence of occupation ended on Friday, Jan. 23.

Parks Canada spokesman Mark Merchant says it will be a couple of weeks before Parks finishes reviewing the applications and are ready to make a decision.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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