Town of Canmore


The Land Use Bylaw topics on this page address the size, form, and access of our buildings to protect our access to light, privacy, enjoyment of views, availability of parking, and landscaping. Below is some information about how the proposed regulations in the new Land Use Bylaw would address maximum house size, minimize the effect of building massing, what types of roof styles should be allowed in Canmore, allow for accessory dwelling units (suites) in more areas of Canmore, as well as what driveway locations (front or back) should be allowed for new developments. 

Click here to see the current Land Use Bylaw. 

 Building Massing

The proposed new Land Use Bylaw adds new regulations intended to reduce the negative effects of building massing on street. This helps to make buildings less imposing and creates a more pedestrian-friendly environment. For example, buildings can be required to "step back" from the street on the upper floors, reducing the building's imposition on the street. Other strategies to reduce the effect of building massing include limiting building heights and decreasing the size of balconies and eaves in front yards.

What is proposed?

Recently, there have been an increasing number of reverse pitch roofs over decks that significantly increase the building massing on the street and adjacent properties. In response to this, roofs above decks are proposed to be limited to not more than 0.61 metres into front or rear yard setbacks. In addition, new regulations for rooftop terraces are being introduced. The proposed new Land Use Bylaw includes a regulation that allows rooftop terraces but requires that they be set back 2.0 metres from the building façade.

Read a summary about how building heights and slopes are currently regulated  pdf here (119 KB) .


Accessory Dwelling Units

Canmore has experienced an increase in housing costs and a shortage of housing. The Town is undertaking a variety of strategies to address this issue, including allowing for accessory dwelling units in more areas. Accessory dwelling units, which include secondary suites, garden suites and garage suites, can help improve housing affordability and supply. They can also act as “mortgage helpers,” providing additional income for existing homeowners. In areas where accessory dwelling units are currently allowed, they typically are built and occupied in approximately 25% of potential units. 

What is proposed?

Currently, accessory dwelling units are only allowed in in some areas in Canmore. The proposed new Land Use Bylaw allows for accessory dwelling units within all single family (R1) land use districts, as follows:

1. Attached accessory dwellings (e.g., secondary or basement suites) would be allowed in:

  • all single family R1 type districts, including R1, R1A, R1B, R1N-M, R1B-E, and R1W
  • the Teepee Town District
  • duplexes in those districts where duplexes are currently allowed
  • the Manufactured Home Family Residential District (under certain conditions) 

2. Detached accessory dwellings (e.g., garden or garage suites) would become permitted for a single storey and discretionary if they are more than one storey tall. As a result of the proposed regulation, the R1S Residential Single Family Detached with Suites District would be removed and all existing R1S properties would be redesignated to R1, as that district would become redundant with the new regulations. 

The proposed Land Use Bylaw would propose all R1S districts become R1 as noted on the map below. 

Read a summary about how accessory dwelling units are currently regulated  pdf here (233 KB)



Maximum Dwelling (House) Size

The size and massing of houses in Canmore affects how the town looks and feels. It also affects the cost and supply of housing. The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) provides direction to the Town to consider a maximum dwelling size in order to promote sustainable housing design and to limit the impact of housing massing in neighbourhoods. As such, the proposed new Land Use Bylaw places a limit on house size in an effort to address housing supply and affordability, neighbourhood character, and sustainable housing design. 

What is proposed? 

A limit to the size of dwellings already exists in the current Land Use Bylaw, but it only applies to a section of the R1 district in the valley-bottom area. The proposed Land Use Bylaw would apply a maximum house size of 325 m2 (approximately 3,500 ft2), OR a maximum floor area ratio of 0.35 for lots larger than 930 m2, within the R1, R1A, and R1B districts. This means that large lots would be allowed to have larger homes on them. Garages would not count towards this limit, but the proposed Land Use Bylaw does include a limit of 60 m2 for garages within these districts.


 Read a summary about how house sizes are currently regulated pdf here (112 KB)





Older Canmore neighbourhoods feature lanes (alleys). These lanes provide access to garages located behind houses, allowing for residents to park on their property rather than on the public street. Minimizing the number and width of front driveways along streets can be desirable, as it allows for a more continuous pedestrian environment that is not interrupted by vehicle crossings and creates a landscaped front yard as opposed to what can appear as a "parking lot." 

What is proposed? 

The current Land Use Bylaw states that access to a property "should" be provided by the lane where a lane exists. The proposed new Land Use Bylaw changes the word "should" to "must," requiring new developments along streets with lanes to use the lane for vehicle access and prohibiting front drive garages. Under the proposed new Land Use Bylaw, a landowner would have to obtain a variance to construct a new driveway on a property that is served by a back lane. This is consistent with how administration has been interpreting the bylaw.



 Roof Styles 

The current Land Use Bylaw encourages steep roof pitches, which contribute to town's mountain character. However, a desire for more flexibility in roof types has been expressed to allow for a greater diversity of architecture to allow for flat, shallow, and complex roof styles. The current Land Use Bylaw allows for lower pitched roofs on single family homes, but requires reductions to height that make it very difficult to have a third floor. 

What is proposed? 

The proposed new Land Use Bylaw allows for additional roof styles, which would provide for more architectural variety and new interpretations of mountain architecture. Steep roof pitches would still be allowed, but the proposed new Land Use Bylaw includes a new way of determining roof slopes to allow for developments to employ a variety of roof styles.

Read a summary about how building heights and slopes are currently regulated pdf here (119 KB)



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