Town of Canmore

New Land Use Bylaw

A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, November 12 starting at 5 p.m for the public to provide input. A updated summary of changes can be found below, and a revised draft is available at Bylaws Pending Approval.  Council will consider third reading of the bylaw on Dec. 10 (date TBC). 

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.

Why are we proposing a new Land Use Bylaw (LUB)?

The proposed Land Use Bylaw 2018-22, if adopted, will replace the current Land Use Bylaw 22-2010. 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 requires new or different regulations. The changes are significant enough to warrant a completely new LUB - rather than an amendment of the existing one. To read what was approved at first reading, click here. To read what was approved at second reading, visit Bylaws Pending Approval

Administration is recommending significant changes since the bylaw was the subject of a public hearing in February. Links to a red-line version of the proposed new bylaw, as well as a clean copy can be found at Bylaws Pending Approval.  

In addition, to reflect consistency with the regulations in the proposed LUB, an MDP amendment to update policies for Steep Creek Hazards is required. Read more at Bylaw 2018-27 Municipal Development Plan (MDP) Amendment – Steep Creek Hazard

What is proposed in the new LUB?

We are not discussing everything in the Land Use Bylaw at this time, but instead focusing on key areas that:

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

The proposed Land Use Bylaw 2018-22 has been drafted 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), and the draft of the proposed new bylaw can be read  on Bylaws Pending Approval.

Key areas to note are:

  • The Administration section of the proposed new LUB has been drafted to improve readability, and reflect 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 also proposed. For ADUs to be a viable option for home owners, there needs to be flexibility in the parking regulations. As such, the parking requirement for automobile stalls for ADUs is optional, but would no longer be a requirement. At second reading, Council proposed to make Detached Dwelling as a discretionary use and Detached with an Accessory Dwelling Unit as a permitted use in all residential districts (to provide further incentives to create ADUs). This will be decided at third reading.
  • It is proposed to limit house size to a maximum of 325m2 (3,500ft2) on lots under 930m2.  
  • There are no longer requirements proposed to provide employee housing associated with new visitor accommodation (hotels) and hostels on Bow Valley Trail. After conducting a thorough review of the regulations which exist in the LUB and all previous approaches, it has been determined that the LUB is overstepping its 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). The approach proposed by Administration is to introduce a new built form(s) in residential and commercial districts that would allow for higher tenant densities in the form of buildings with communal eating and living spaces but with separate sleeping quarters. 
  • A Steep Creek Hazard Overlay District has been proposed in accordance with existing policies in the MDP. This 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. 
  • An overall reduction to parking requirements is proposed. Unlike the regulations proposed at first reading, which had individual requirements specified for each use within the LUB, 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, is proposed to 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 proposed. 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, at second reading, Council proposed to permit chalkboard signs in commercial districts outside the Gateway district and Town Centre.
  • Definitions have been proposed to provide better clarity to uses, and businesses operated in accordance with the said use. See Housing for more information.
  • Land use district maps are proposed to transition all parcels of land within the Town to a land use district under the new Land Use Bylaw. The proposed land use district maps align district boundaries to property lines. Generally, each parcel of land is proposed to transition 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. Unlike what was proposed at first reading, the district around Quarry Lake Park area will remain. 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?
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. 
Some stakeholders intend to submit formal feedback on the proposed new Land Use Bylaw, including employee housing, at the Feb. 5 public hearing. This information will be available at: 
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?
Proposed 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. If a new LUB is adopted by Council, 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.

Next Steps/Get Involved

A second public hearing will be held on Nov. 12 at 5 p.m. at the Civic Centre. Council will consider third reading of the bylaw on Dec. 10, 2019 (date TBC).  

What We Heard

A public hearing was held on Feb. 5, 2019. You can read the record of public submissions or watch the video at Council Agendas, Minutes, and Videos. First reading was given to the proposed bylaw on Nov 20, 2018.

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. 

Street Life

The comfort, safety, convenience, and enjoyment of our streets through what happens on and along the street.

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How we shape the form of our buildings, landscaping, and parking to protect access, privacy, light, and views.

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How the land that shapes our community is regulated to ensure we respect the environment and geography of our town.

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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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