Town of Canmore

New Land Use Bylaw

The Land Use Bylaw directs the town’s form and use, and helps Canmore work towards its Municipal Development Plan (MDP) vision:

Canmore is a resilient and vibrant community, socially, economically, and environmentally. Its strength is in its resourceful and engaged citizens, who thrive together on the strength of the community’s heritage, long-term commitment to the diversity of its people, and health of the mountain landscape.

To reach this vision, each regulation within the Land Use Bylaw plays a role in supporting sustainable growth, respecting community character, improving mobility choice, and more.

Next Steps

The new Land Use Bylaw has been approved and you can read it pdf here (39.00 MB)

The new Land Use Bylaw will come into effect April 1, 2020, but application deadlines are as early as February 10, 2020. Please read more about upcoming application deadlines here.  

Why a new Land Use Bylaw (LUB)?

Land Use Bylaw 2018-22 will replace the current Land Use Bylaw 22-2010 on April 1, 2020. The last comprehensive update to the LUB was in 2010. Since that time, there has been guidance from the new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and Council direction, as well as community feedback that required new or different regulations. The changes were significant enough to warrant a completely new LUB - rather than an amendment of the existing one. To read what was approved at previous readings, see the chart at the bottom of this page. 

In addition, to reflect consistency with the regulations in the proposed LUB, an MDP amendment to update policies for Steep Creek Hazards was required. 

What changed in the new LUB?

Changes focused on key areas that:

  • Were becoming more popular due to changing preferences, values, and aspirations 
  • Required a re-visit to ensure the guidance is well-defined, effective, and reflects community desires
  • Made the direction in the Land Use Bylaw clearer and easier to use

Land Use Bylaw 2018-22 was revised to improve readability and and also reflects recent changes with respect to how applications are processed so as to better align with the Municipal Government Act. Details of what is proposed are outlined below (scroll down to links to more pages with details and maps). 

Key areas to note are:

  • The Administration section of the new LUB improves readability, and reflects recent changes to how applications are processed and outlined in the Municipal Government Act
  • Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU), which includes secondary suites, garden suites and garage suites, will be allowed in all single family type residential districts and within duplexes. New restrictions on unit size and height are in place, and at least one parking stall must be provided per unit. Detached Dwellings are now a discretionary use and Detached with an Accessory Dwelling Unit are a permitted use in all residential districts (to provide further incentives to create ADUs). 
  • There is a limit to house sizes of a maximum of 325m2 (3,500ft2) on lots under 930m2.  
  • There are provisions to address employee housing by introducing a new built form(s) in residential and commercial districts that will allow for higher tenant densities in the form of buildings with communal eating and living spaces but with separate sleeping quarters. The regulations in the previous LUB overstep the jurisdiction of regulating “the use and development of land and buildings” under section 640(1) of the MGA by trying to regulate the user (i.e. those who can occupy a dwelling unit). 
  • A Steep Creek Hazard Overlay District is in accordance with existing policies in the MDP and restricts new development in high hazard areas, and requires the preparation of a steep creek hazard and risk assessment in moderate hazard zones. The detailed overlay maps show the hazard rating for each lot that is likely to be affected by a steep creek hazard. 
  • There is an overall reduction to parking requirements. The requirements have now been simplified for non-residential uses by establishing sub-classes based on the nature of uses. 
  • Another approach to calculating building height, called the building envelope model, will better address low-pitch roof designs on residential development with fewer than three units.
  • Driveways - where there is an existing residential lane, it must be used for vehicle access and parking unless a variance is warranted. 
  • The Town’s approach to regulating FireSmart development is currently being reviewed by Administration and the FireSmart consultant. An interim set of regulations has been approved. This includes a new requirement for a 1.5m area of non-combustible landscaping to be provided adjacent to all habitable buildings. 
  • A new signage section reduces limitations on colour but increases the requirements for quality. The current prohibition against mobile A-frame signs is maintained, however, chalkboard signs are allowed in commercial districts outside the Gateway district and Town Centre.
  • Definitions have been updated to provide better clarity to uses, and businesses operated in accordance with the said use. 
  • Land use district maps were approved to transition all parcels of land within the Town to a land use district under the new Land Use Bylaw. The land use district maps align district boundaries to property lines. Generally, each parcel of land transitions to a new land use district which is similar in scope and name to its current land use district. Some notable exceptions which include, but are not limited to:  a number of properties are proposed to be PD Public Use District, such as some in the Three Sisters area, which are being transferred to the Town as community lands;  the UR-1 Restricted Urban Reserve District is proposed to be the Sub-Surface Hazards Overlay District. The district around Quarry Lake Park area will remain unchanged. The R1S Residential detached with Suites District will be deleted and those areas will become R1.

A summary of the information proposed at second reading can be found in item G1 of the Oct. 1 agenda package here.

A summary of the information proposed at first reading can be found in item F1 of the Nov. 20 agenda package here, and a copy of the Nov. 20 presentation can be found pdf here (5.34 MB) .

For more information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Click here to see the current Land Use Bylaw.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are hotels and hostels currently required to provide employee housing?
In some areas of Town that have an Area Structure Plan or Area Redevelopment Plan, employee housing is required to be provided (Silvertip, Three Sisters, and Spring Creek).  This requirement is not currently present in the downtown or commercial center of Canmore.   
Are any other businesses obligated to provide housing?
No.   
Does the Town of Canmore have the legal authority within the Municipal Government Act to require employee housing?
The Municipal Government Act (MGA) does not reference any specific type of land use, including employee housing. The MGA sets out the broad authorities and responsibilities of a municipality as it relates to a land use bylaw or other regulation, including the responsibility to set out what uses are permitted or discretionary in any given district, with or without conditions. Section 640 of the MGA requires that municipalities pass a Land Use Bylaw and that the bylaw establishes uses of land or buildings in land use districts. Employee Housing is a use and is listed in many of the Town’s land use districts. 
Spring Creek Mountain Village, Three Sisters Mountain Village, and Silvertip Resort are currently required to provide employee housing. These commitments were established during the development and approval of their respective area and redevelopment plans.
Does the Town of Canmore provide incentives for employee housing?
Outside of the resort centres, the Town of Canmore encourages the provision of employee housing through the option of reduced parking requirements, and in some land use districts, the temporary conversion of hotel rooms to employee housing. In addition, as employee housing offers a community benefit, the Town of Canmore may consider the inclusion of employee housing in a new development as a rationale to support proposed development variances such as exceeding the maximum building density or height permitted.
Could the Town of Canmore adopt a similar employee housing program to that of the Home Run Program run out of Whistler where suites in residential neighbourhoods are used for employee housing?
Whistler Home run is a voluntary program where the municipality encourages property owners to rent directly to businesses. There is no regulation involved in this program. Should the proposed new Canmore LUB receive approval from Council, including the regulation regarding accessory dwelling units, then we could consider options for the creation of employee housing, including best practices from other communities.  A full examination of the housing and visitor accommodation challenges faced in Canmore and potential solutions is scheduled for later in 2020.   
What employee housing feedback has the Town received from stakeholders? 
The What We Heard Reports summarizing the feedback received are available on this webpage. An electronic search of the documents for “employee housing” will highlight all the feedback received. A public record of what was submitted for the public hearings is available at Council Agendas, Minutes, and Videos

How many suites currently exist in the Town?
There are approximately 170 approved building permits relating to accessory dwelling units within the Town of Canmore.  
Why is the Statutory Declaration being removed as a requirement for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)?
Statutory Declarations requirement are being removed as a requirement for ADUs as there is limited legal enforcement provided by statutory declarations. The Town is unable to provide enforcement unless a relevant complaint is made about the property and it can clearly be demonstrated that the home owner does not reside as a full time resident at the property. Additionally, public feedback has identified that statutory declarations are often a limitation in the ability of some permanent and all non-permanent homeowners in certain areas within Town when it comes to providing suites.
What is the research behind the changes to suites regulations?
A number of municipalities in Canada have prepared land use regulations for suites as a way to use land more efficiently, and to help address the need for more affordable housing. In addition, the regulations help ensure that they are legally established and meet safety code standards. Various municipalities across Canada were reviewed for to their suite regulations. The recommendations proposed for Canmore are generally more restrictive than other areas researched, and take in to consideration the concerns raised by the public.
If a Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit (DADU)/garden suite is permitted, how will the Town prevent the neighbourhood character from being disrupted?
Changes to the Land Use Bylaw reflect concerns raised by the public that detached accessory dwelling units DADUs (garden suites) have had the effect of changing the character of single family neighbourhoods and reduce privacy. The proposed changes include reducing the massing of the DADUs by:
*Placing emphasis on encouraging single storey DADUs and ADUs (attached to the primary residence)
*Where a loft is proposed as part of a DADU, the new LUB proposes a maximum of 40m2. The current LUB allows for the ½ storey to be 50m2
*Where a loft is proposed as part of a DADU, the new LUB proposes that the use be discretionary
*Currently dormers built into roofs of the ½ storey of a DADU are used to provide more liveable space. The proposed changes places limits on dormers to reduce the massing and size of the units
Will the community be receiving an easy-to-read version that shows what has changed in the LUB, and why?
Yes. A simplified summary document will be made available to the public.
What is the difference between “Detached Plus Dwellings” and “Detached Accessory Dwelling Unit, one-storey”?
Detached plus dwelling means a property under one title that contains a detached dwelling and an attached accessory dwelling unit. In short, a Detached Plus contains a suite in the same building (e.g. basement suite).Detached accessory dwelling unit (e.g. garden suite, carriage house, garage suite) means an accessory dwelling unit, that may include a garage, located on the same property as, and in a separate building from the principal residential use, and is under one title with the principal residential use.
Where is the “storey” calculated from? Where does the “storey” start?
‘Storey’ represents a vertical distance between floors. Storey is defined as: the space between the top of any floor and the top of the next floor above it and, if there is no floor above it, the portion between the top of the floor and the ceiling above it. If the top of the floor directly above a basement is more than 1.8m above grade, such basement shall be considered a Storey for the purposes of this Bylaw
Will I lose my views if my neighbours decide to build a detached accessory dwelling?
After a detached accessory dwelling is applied for, there are situations where you will have an opportunity to express your concerns as part of the development permit process. Comments to the Town can be received in advance of a decision being made, and once a decision is made affected neighbours can appeal a decision to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

What We Heard

A public hearing was held on Feb. 5, 2019 and Nov. 12, 2019. You can read the record of public submissions or watch the video at Council Agendas, Minutes, and Videos

Phase two of the engagement process included:

  • An online survey
  • Open houses on Jan. 22 and 26

Read the  pdf Summary of What We Heard (3.05 MB) .

Phase one of the engagement process included:

  • An online survey
  • Sounding boards
  • Pop-up events 
  • Stakeholder meetings

Read the pdf Summary of Community Engagement Report (9.07 MB) and notes from the pdf stakeholder meetings (289 KB) .

This information on phase one was presented to council on Aug. 14, 2018 and the information can be found here. Council also received an overview of the proposed new Land Use Bylaw at two workshops in October of 2018. 

Background

Action Document Approval History Statutory/Non-statutory Date
Public engagement and feedback collection Non-statutory Summer 2018
First Reading pdf LUB 2018 22 Approved at First Reading (28.68 MB) Statutory November 20, 2018
Notification of Public Hearing

Statutory

January 14, 2019

Statutory

January 23, 2019

  • Advertisement in the Rocky Mountain Outlook
Statutory

January 17, 24, and 31, 2019

Open House Non-statutory January 22 and 26, 2019
Public Hearing Statutory February 5, 2019
Second Reading

pdf LUB 2018 22 Approved at Second Reading REDLINE (6.01 MB)  (for tracking purposes only)

pdf LUB 2018 22 Approved at Second Reading (22.53 MB)

Statutory October 1, 2019
Second public hearing advertisement
  • Advertisement in the Rocky Mountain Outlook
Non-statutory October 24, 31, and November 7, 2019
Second Public Hearing Non-statutory November 12, 2019
Third Reading

pdf LUB 2018 22 for Third Reading (35.70 MB)

pdf LUB 2018 22 Redline for Third Reading (29.33 MB)

pdf 2018-22 Land Use Bylaw Approved (39.00 MB)

Statutory December 10, 2019

Street Life

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Building

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Land

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Housing (LUB)

Where and how we live and stay in our town, and ensuring it is affordable and inclusive for our neighbours, workers, children, and visitors.

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