Tourism Canmore Kananaskis and the Canmore Hotel and Lodging Association have asked all candidates for the 2021 municipal election 5 questions important to our industry. Below you will find the answers of each candidate that were received by the deadline. We will add other candidates’ answers once received.
It is reassuring to see that all candidates see that tourism is the economic driver behind the Town of Canmore’s vibrancy. Lobbying for a Resort Municipality Status or a vacancy tax with the provincial government are some solutions offered. These lobbying efforts are ongoing by town administration and it will remain to be seen what the new council will do differently in order to be successful in funding the town’s tourism infrastructure.
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Candidates For Mayor
Tourism is an important aspect of our economy. Tomorrow, Council will have a presentation to hear the results of the Tourism Task Force’s work over the past year. One hindrance to the development of Tourism that I can see in Canmore is the fact that we don’t have an anchor resort hotel built as of yet on two significant ASPs as proposed: at Silvertip and Three Sisters Mountain Resorts. This has resulted in smaller properties being developed ad-hoc, on smaller land allocations, with fewer “resort” style amenities. This drives visitor use to Town supported recreational and community-based assets, trails, tennis courts, pickleball courts, public parks and natural areas that were allocated to wildland conservation and habitat.
It is very challenging to absorb the increase in human use, especially in water and wastewater management which require upgrades to our water utility to handle this increased demand.
I have met with our MLA, Miranda Rosin, and am currently advancing the conversation on Resort Municipality Status. She asked me to provide a list of projects that have been put on hold for lack of funding and I gave her a list of projects removed from the 2020 budget, as we grappled with revenue deficiencies due to Covid 19 impacts. I feel that we can advance the conversation about Resort Municipality status and this investment is making sense to our current government. They are looking for economic diversification and Canmore is a natural high-quality tourism asset.
Obviously tourism is Canmore’s major industry, and it is a major employer. Unfortunately, much of that employment is minimum wage, much of the staff has enormous challenges finding a suitable and affordable place to live and some say that the cost to the municipality of tourism is higher than any revenue the municipality receives.
Equally, and of note is the very real concern of over-tourism which, even with the underlying factor of Covid, has been apparent these last few years; even without the impacts of international travel.
I am very pleased that Canmore found a solid economic base following the closure of coal operations and believe it is a solid and meaningful contributor to Canmore’s broader economy.
Having said that, I believe a cautious approach to further expansion is warranted.
It would be wonderful if expansion of tourism could focus / direct any increase in tourist volume to the shoulder / off seasons AND if further expansion presented greater revenue opportunities to the municipality.
Canmore is a tourism community.
Becoming a tourism community after transitioning from a mining town was not solely our decision. With the beauty of our natural surroundings being showcased during the 1988 Winter Olympics, Canmore became the destination of choice for visitors, second homeowners, and new residents. Of course, the community’s decision is to either just let it unfold however it will or to embrace the opportunity and define it on our own terms. While some residents are not yet willing to accept tourism as a reality in Canmore, there has been excellent effort in the community and within the tourism sector to define who we are as a destination and the type of visitor that we’d like to attract. We are an authentic mountain town, and we want to attract visitors who share our values.
As a tourism community, we have more amenities and attractions than a like-sized town that does not attract visitors. The level and variety of entertainment that we often have available to us is because we are an attractive place to be. Further, it never ceases to amaze me at the wide selection of excellent restaurants that we have to choose from. Of course, it comes with costs, too. The quantity and quality of infrastructure needed to service and satisfy visitors is paid for by our taxpayers, and so it would be of great assistance to continue to strive for Resort Municipality status, which will raise revenue from visitors to offset these extra costs.
Obviously, tourism drives a large percentage of Canmore’s economy which directly and indirectly benefits many businesses in town and provides a lot of employment opportunities. As Canmore continues to mature as a tourist destination, the community along with the tourism sector will have to work together to overcome natural growing pains . . . decrease in affordability, shortage of housing . . . both of which contribute to staffing shortages. Other challenges include continuing to meet the growing demand and handling congestions issues. However, all of these challenges can be overcome. For further details, see the answers below and my website www.seankrausert.ca .
Candidates For Council
To me I see tourism not only as an economic driver that not only supports many jobs, but an opportunity for entrepreneurs created from our young to elderly community members. It adds to our vibrant active town and gives our residents a wide variety of services from a broad choice of eateries, retail etc. It also comes with some negative side effects, that need to be addressed or calmed.
Jyn San Miguel
When I moved to Canada, I went to Canadian Tourism College. It was more of a pragmatic approach in learning how to speak English than the actual program itself. But eventually, I fell in love with the courses, which inspired me to travel Canada from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast. During this travel, I discovered the Rocky Mountains and fell in love with Canmore. I decided to settle in this town after visiting across the country. I started working in hotels and living in staff housing. Eventually, I was honoured to have a job with the Town of Canmore while working contractually with Banff and Lake Louise Tourism. I have always taken pride in the tourism and hospitality industry, and I have a personal connection with the industry.
Tourism brings us many things, many benefits, (good paying jobs, tax income, support for our many services). I also think it helps our town standout for things like our wonderful restaurants, coffee shops, breweries etc, which a town our size could not support without tourism. Canmore is a tourist town.
To me, tourism means the ebb and flow of people moving around the world, the country, and this province. It means the good, the bad and the ugly that comes along with all of that.
It means an industry of industries and billions of gross domestic product each year. It means very little revenue for the municipal government and increased burden on our local taxpayers for services.
It means we must all adapt to a road network for a town of 15,000 that sees millions of additional vehicles on its roads each year. It means paid parking and transit.
It means cash registers ringing, busy cafés and restaurants, and heads in beds. It means jobs and it means a higher cost of living and housing challenges.
But more than anything, it means an opportunity for leadership and innovation. It means a chance to plan now for the tourism-based economy we want to be as a community.
We have always tended to value the triple bottom line approach to decision making in Canmore. With tourism, that is no different. That means we benefit socially; we maintain or enhance ecological integrity; and support a thriving economy.
The Town of Canmore’s tourism task force report calls it regenerative tourism and the framework for this work will be presented to council this week. The report is now publicly available.
Truth and reconciliation and climate change are at the heart of this new framework. I am excited to take on this important work, should I be elected, and forming a tourism round table.
Tourism is Canmore’s economic driver. It is the largest sector of our economy and an important contributor to our quality of life.
People are attracted to Canmore for the beautiful landscape and spectacular Rocky Mountains.
Regenerative Tourism is an important philosophy we need to adopt as it recognizes the need for care and repair of our natural resources while sharing them in a balanced, and sustainable way. Minimizing our impact while enjoying an outstanding experience is about respect for our resources and education of those visiting them. Living in a place where the world comes to visit, is our advantage and privilege. I like to think we are all visitors here and want everyone to enjoy and care for this majestic setting. I appreciate the awe and positive energy from tourism and enjoy being around our happy visitors.
Canmore Tourism means a great deal to me, and I embrace it and feel very fortunate to be part of it. The road we travel is equal in importance to the destination we seek.
This is a fairly broad question and open to a variety of interpretations, so I will try to both define what it means to me, and to give you my perspective on why. At it’s most basic, the Visitor Economy is the most important industry in Canmore. It drives everything else. The way I see it is that it is a great success story. I enjoy a Canadian television program called Still Standing which explores how communities have reinvented themselves to survive and thrive. Canmore is a great success story because it has reinvented itself from a historical coal mining town to one of the most iconic mountain destinations provincially, nationally and globally. There are other mountain towns like Whistler & Mt. Tremblanc in Canada, or Vail & Sun Valley in the U.S. But none of them are uniquely situated immediately adjacent to one of the world’s best known National Parks, with millions of acres of additional National and Provincial parks attached to it.
We are also uniquely situated as a legacy of the 1988 Olympic games as a world class destination for Nordic skiing and training. One of the most important features of our community is that in addition to being a tourism destination, it is authentically the home of people who choose to live here, to raise a family, create a business or career, or to enjoy a multitude of outdoor recreational pursuits. This creates a differentiator that can be used to direct visitors to Canmore rather than the more purely tourist towns like Banff, Lake Louise or Jasper.
Tourism in Canmore is a huge economic driver for our community. Many of the things we as a community enjoy and love are only possible because of tourism. We have world class amenities, restaurants and other infrastructure that a town of our size would not normally have. At the same time tourism brings with it many challenges. We experience congestion, affordability issues and environmental and wildlife conflict due to the number of people that love to visit the amazing place we call home.
It was the tourism industry that brought me and many of my cohort to the Bow Valley more than 20 years ago. Even upon my arrival it was well established in Canmore and during my time in that industry I very much enjoyed meeting new people and sharing the beauty of my community with the world.
Tourism is an important component of the economy that has sustained many individuals and households locally. Not unlike other industries, there are positives and negatives sides to the industry that come to the attention to the municipality.
I have been involved directly in tourism for many decades. Since the 1988 Olympics, our community was focused as a world class destination. As local business owners, and as a community, we rely on tourism as an economic driver. It feeds our families and has brought us all together in this most beautiful place in the world. I currently sit on the Board of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis as Treasurer and have served on prior tourism boards over the past decades both locally and regionally. We all have a responsibly to create, manage and monitor this industry as a sustainable model in relation to our mountain town community.
Tourism is one of the cornerstones of our economy. At its best it gives us a chance to share our Valley with the world, educate them on our values and principles and enhance our economy. But we have also seen the downsides of Over-Tourism. The hordes of people at every trail head, garbage and negative wildlife interactions. We need to recognize the limits of the natural world. Preserving and protecting it serves everyone. It is our most valuable asset.
Tourism is a critical driver for Canmore. I say this from first hand experience as owner of the Yoga Lounge on main street. These past 20 months with Covid have been exceptionally challenging. While our local clientele has kept our heads barely above the water, the shifting nature of Alberta tourism (and lack of international visitors) has been punishing. One cannot underestimate how much tourism brings to local businesses and how a varied mix of tourist types (Canadian and international) is critical. The pandemic has underscored how vital tourism is for Canmore’s economy.
As I like to point out to friends, many of the finest amenities within our town would not exist without tourist dollars. Whether it’s the high calibre of restaurants, fitness offerings, retail, etc – the money from tourism allows these exceptional businesses to be feasible.
And finally, because tourism has driven much of our population growth, one could argue that every business within town is a “tourism” business. Homebuilders, construction trades, etc – businesses that may at first glance feel they are not a “tourism business” actually exist due to the seeds that tourism plants.
Moving forward, I see Canmore being a leader in responsible, regenerative tourism. This could involve education on co-existing with wildlife, etc
Question 2 - The tourism industry was and will be a thriving industry and hotels will continue to be built. How should the Town of Canmore balance the future hotel development with the at times negative tourism sentiment of residents?
Candidates For Mayor
Having toured Europe, it is apparent pedestrianization of streetscapes enhances visitor experience. While on Council in the past 4 years, I very much encouraged and supported this initiative to try this new summer pedestrianization. It was adopted very quickly as a trial in the summer of 2020 which created some challenges but bringing it in the second summer of 2021 was much more streamlined. Because locals and visitors alike enjoyed it, this was a good way to demonstrate the benefits of tourism with the local opportunities and appreciation. With an additional intercept lot added temporarily, behind Home hardware, and the use of Elevation Place parking lots for intercept parking alerting visitors early with directional signage, downtown congestion seemed to be reduced. The horse Ferdinand, at the Murriettas corner, attracted a great deal of attention and focus for visitors and locals alike. I and my family have enjoyed many strolls along main street, and as residents, we enjoy the relaxed vibe. This is a good way to show that tourism is compatible with residents if it benefits and appeals to both. As Canmore Locals, we need to recognize that our services like restaurants, retail, drycleaning and even groceries have been of higher quality, and more available than in towns similar in size. This is because of higher visitation and a robust tourist market, not in spite of it. We should learn to celebrate the nice-to have’s, our enhanced recreational facilities, like Elevation Place and the Canmore Recreation Centre, as the revenues these produce from visitation benefit our community as a whole. We need to find appropriate spaces for visitor experience, and the Down Town enhancement plan could give us those amenity ideas to round out our ability to host large numbers of visitors more efficiently and effectively in our relatively small community.
Future hotel expansion / building/ growth should probably look to ensure that the proposals are perceived as “beneficial” to the residents, and offer a net financial benefit to the municipality.
An increase in the number of tourists in high season (which is already perceived as overcrowded) will, predictably, create significant negative backlash
In question 5 you refer to the notion of a destination management organization and as things move forward this might be one piece of the puzzle towards gaining some more goodwill from locals.
Future hotel development and the at times negative tourism sentiment of residents are somewhat related but operate independent of each other.
Future hotel development will be determined by market-based decision making by private business. If a hotelier sees an opportunity in the market due to growing demand by visitors and the economic model makes sense, then a new hotel will be built. This will continue until there is no more land left for hotel development.
The negative tourism sentiment of some residents is the natural byproduct of the change that accompanies the growth of tourism. Some residents will feel that there is less room for them given congestion on the roads and the busy-ness at trailheads/parks/Quarry lake. Some will pine for the “good old days” when things were quieter; but, as one lifelong resident reminded me, the “good old days” also involved a lot of dust in the air, unpaved roads, and very little in the way of options for food, entertainment, or anything else.
The Town of Canmore, working with Tourism Canmore Kananaskis, Canmore Hotel & Lodging Association and tourism operators need to bridge the divide in sentiment in the community with respect to tourism. The recent Tourism Task Force is an example of needed efforts as it aims to capture what is important for residents with respect to tourism, and in doing so guides the development of tourism in alignment with residents’ values. Through these and other ongoing efforts we can work through growing pains associated with increased numbers of visitors, help residents appreciate the benefits of tourism, and help the tourism industry understand concerns of residents.
Candidates For Council
The Tourism Task Force was created to lead a community conversation on a sustainable vision for tourism in Canmore. A framework was created, and recommendations have come forward.
Jyn San Miguel
The town of Canmore should implement market research to balance future hotel developments. Market research identifies what market we are working on and will provide us excellent information regarding decision-making. With market research, we can also gather the negative tourism sentiment of the residents. It is a great tool to bring the power of decision-making to the community.
Proper zoning is essential for future hotel development, but also coming up with a sustainable solution for staff housing is critical. It’s time to find solutions other than crowded houses, trailer homes, and van-homes. We need public and private partnerships to come up with long term answers that works for the whole community.
One way the Town of Canmore can show leadership and balance future hotel development with public perception around tourism is to require all new commercial development to provide staff accommodation.
With housing and affordability key issues affecting our economy, including the ability to attract and retain employees, providing housing is a solution.
Our residential/commercial assessment ratio is currently 80/20 and our goal has been to reach 60/40. We expect additional commercial development, yes, including hotels. But if we don’t also ensure we are increasing our housing supply as development continues, we will suffer the consequences.
We, the Tourism task force, have just finished our work on this. What we’ve found is that an important part of the ongoing work is to balance visitation with our residents and their quality of life. Ensuring that residents derive the benefits from tourism (whether directly or indirectly) is critical to their acceptance. Having the amenities that we have such as quality and choice of restaurants much beyond a community our size normally has, is a benefit accessible and enjoyed by many. Facilities and locally owned businesses that are supported and prosperous because of Tourism is a necessary realization. An acknowledgement and understanding of tourism’s importance and place in our town will be important for residents. Informed and educated visitors will be a must. . Canmore attracts investment and a balanced approach to future hotel development can happen. Canmore now attracts the world, and this stage is important to embrace and manage together.
Tourism isn’t something that residents should feel has been ‘done to them.’ They should feel empowered to contribute to what that looks like for Canmore. Building community trust, collaboration, and engagement to strengthen social infrastructure supporting tourism is a healthy direction. This could be accomplished by actioning the findings from the Tourism task Force and establishing a Tourism Advisory Committee to support ongoing dialogue and decision making with the local perspective in mind and host Tourism Roundtables to facilitate and encourage community participation.
Canmore has had an ambivalent relationship with Tourism probably since the mine closure. Unfortunately, there has been political leadership which has perpetuated this ambivalence, up to and including incumbent or retiring council members. This has not been useful in helping to shape either the Visitor Economy or building of future additional hotels, which by the way has been a relatively recent phenomenon after a 25 year gap in new hotel rooms. Without acknowledging the importance of Visitors to the community, in terms of our future, or in terms of how much of the rest of the economy is connected to the Visitor economy, we highlight the apparent conflict. Instead, we should be focused on celebrating our accomplishments, clearly supporting a Visitor Economy and creating a message of inclusion.
Success creates its own pressures and unintended consequences. Over-tourism is becoming more of a mainstream topic, but it is about much more than not being able to get a seat at your favorite coffee shop. It should be about what kind of visitor experience we are creating. It should also be about what kind of resident experience we are creating. Positive experiences for both are not mutually exclusive, but they do require setting clear expectations for both. It also requires that our council members are actively engaged in helping to set those expectations. Unfettered, unmanaged tourism will result in negative visitor experience and will create negative perceptions of the visitor economy by residents. Both need to be part of the solution and the industry has to be an important part of leading that dialogue. Council needs to create the safe space for that dialogue to occur.
I think that educating the public on the benefits of the tourism industry is very important to help allay the negativity that surrounds tourism. The tourism industry also needs to step up and help with this education and work with the Town of Canmore in getting the word out. We also need to acknowledge that there are negative side effects from tourism and work together to help find solutions to these issues where we can.
COVID really outlined for us the lengths that visitors will go to get the experience they want and the concept of “over Tourism” has come to the forefront as a concern for residents. I am looking forward to reading the report and results of the Tourism Task Force work.
Negative sentiment can also be about voicing the need to protect elements of our community. We need to listen and have conversations rather than avoid them. I believe the community is aware of the need for a local economy and giving residents the opportunity to continue living and growing in the community. However, any development needs to follow the guidelines of the municipal development plan regarding where and how projects are integrated into the overall community. This is how Town Council can assist in a common vision and support the values of our community that we need to protect.
As noted above, over tourism can have negative impacts. If we continue to respect this place we can mitigate those impacts. If we are going to build we need to be very sensitive to the natural ecology, our social fabric and our economy. With that vision I believe we can all prosper in this valley.
Currently, we have limited land for building and an affordable housing crisis. When citizens see the precious commodity of land going towards hotels, they see a lost opportunity for themselves. Or, they see this as another pull towards increasing the “busy-ness” of town.
Moving forward with future hotel development, it would be wise to ensure sufficient staff housing is created per project so the net housing burden within our community does not increase. Ideally, these developments would all take steps to increase the affordable housing stock within Canmore.
All of these actions need to be conveyed to citizens clearly. If residents can begin to understand that these hotel developments are trying to be a part of the solution, as well as economic drivers for the community, more support will be gained.
Question 3 - Rentals for employees or staff housing are difficult to find and expensive. These have been exasperated by the illegal vacation rentals in residential areas and areas not zoned for short term vacation rentals. What steps will you take to ensure illegal vacation rentals are found, shut down and fined according to the Town of Canmore's Bylaws?
Candidates For Mayor
We must do a better job of enforcement of these illegal short-term rentals in the community. The new Land Use Bylaw has provisions for Suites in all residential neighbourhoods, but by the same token, suited R1 homes are not intended for short-term rental. Bed and Breakfast is a use allowed in R1 Residential, but the units are to be bedroom style accommodation, in residential homes. We must regulate this industry much more stringently, to preserve the suites for long-term rental opportunties. We have recently hired an in-house Solicitor for the Town of Canmore, and this should help us prepare our bylaw infractions better, to stand up to court challenges, where we have not fared very well in the past.
The issue of staff accommodation is about more than just Airbnb and requires a Council dedicated to coming up with a solution to a decades old issue
I posted the following on Facebook in regard to Staff Accommodation
I keep getting questions of how I’m going to advance the PAH / Vital Homes Program and get more houses in the ground faster.
I just don’t think all the people I know who work (very hard) here, to be able to stay for a time, envision themselves buying houses here; or alternatively it’s recognized that even at a discounted price the likelihood of being able to afford a home here is just not realistic.
This, in no way means that those people aren’t valuable and contributing community members or that given a reasonable opportunity and option they won’t stay here for some time and enrich all our lives.
And, it appears based on the last few years that the issue of accommodation is certainly one of many factors for a real labour issue in Canmore.
I have long advocated for a review of the PAH / Vital homes program and for a consideration of the building of low rise small scale apartment buildings. That,,,, rather than use good sized lots in Canmore’s core to knock down one home and build 4 or 5 overpriced condos, we use the density provisions to advance Staff / staff-type accommodations AND that the Town of Canmore review / amend ./ alter their existing zoning by-laws appropriately in order to respond to a need identified, even in the 1992 NRCB report, but neglected in favour of the profit motive.
After all, the Town of Canmore does not need to make a profit from putting up buildings; The Town of Canmore’s biggest asset is its people.
With regard to Airbnb; you will see following a brief response to that issue when raised by a resident on Facebook
Airbnb … a lot more challenging to deal with when the Town of Canmore continues to allow developers to build new projects encompassing the allowance in the zoning for airbnb rentals.
I’d think the first part of an exercise to dealing with Airbnb would be for the Town to get rid of that zoning allowance.
If and once that were done then the Council could dedicate the resources to strongly policing illegal operators.
Retroactively rezoning properties which currently legally operate as Airbnb would involve time, money and I suspect pretty significant legal battles
When I was previously on Council, I helped develop a system that was used for enforcement against illegal vacation rentals. In the past it was proven to be logistically difficult to prosecute illegal vacation rentals if the owner fought the charge because it meant having to bring in witnesses to the transaction from other places. Also, trying to set-up fake bookings for the purposes of enforcing the rules was deemed to be entrapment. Accordingly, we came up with a system that made it an offence to advertise property that was not zoned or licensed for vacation rentals. In this manner, a simple screenshot of the offence was all that is needed as evidence, and then the owner of the property being illegally rented out on a short term basis would be heavily fined.
It is part of my campaign platform to pursue clamping down on illegal short term rentals again. There are many benefits of doing so. It reduces competition with properly zoned and licensed hotels and tourist homes, who are playing by the rules. It reduces property speculation where homes are scooped up for use as illegal short term rentals. It also returns these properties back into the residential inventory for Canmore, which aids in affordability.
If elected, I will be bringing the matter forward to Council to discuss. I will advocate for Council to direct Administration to vigorously pursue enforcement again.
Candidates For Council
The Town of Canmore fines illegal vacation homes $2500.00 for a first offence and $5000.00 for subsequent offences and a Cease of Use order may be issued. As a Councillor I would support funds to have resources and staff time to investigate complaints and actively seek out offenders.
Jyn San Miguel
Based on the reports of the town of Canmore, it has been at least two years there has not been an enforcement body stopping illegal short-term vacation rentals. Taking advantage of the situation causes a housing crisis in Canmore. I heard enough stories of workers and residents in Canmore being kicked out of their places because landlords would prefer their property generate more money with short-term rentals. Illegal rentals must stop, and hiring an enforcement body has to be a council’s priority. Imposing a hefty fine should deter unlawful short-term rentals. The Council should also assess the effectiveness of the current zoning in our town.
I would vote in favor making the position of Bylaw enforcement a full-time one, the numbers are staggering, as in number of illegal rentals.
A few years ago, when Airbnb was first starting to take off, there was a surge in illegal rentals in our community. Council at the time hired an additional position in the planning department to undertake proactive enforcement.
This is a priority and staffing issue. If there are enough illegal vacation rentals happening that we need to step up enforcement, council would be able to discuss it at the finance committee level.
Until the time that additional resources are a discussion, it would be helpful to better understand the issue better. How many complaints are being received each year? How many illegal vacation rentals are operating in the community?
Protecting Canmore’s rental housing is essential. I believe in advocating for a vision, zoning, regulation and management of short term-term vacation rentals in residential neighbourhoods. Enforcement of the rules is required and necessary to shut down illegal short term rentals. We have and continue to intentionally plan our town. When we work against existing plans and rules, our future vision cannot be realized, and no one benefits.
The answer to your question is found within it. The Town of Canmore already knows how to find illegal vacation rentals. They just don’t deal with the other two parts effectively, i.e. shutting them down and fining them. That has a lot to do with their Bylaw enforcement policy which is to educate before enforcing. It rarely seems to get past the education stage. In my view, the time for education has long passed and a more comprehensive, sustained enforcement approach is required.
In order for illegal vacation rentals to be found, shut down and fined, council will need to provide the appropriate resources through the budget process to ensure that we have the staff to accomplish this work. This is something that will need to be looked at and implemented by council during budget deliberations.
The Town of Canmore went to great lengths in the last budget to retain the contract position that monitors illegal short-term rentals in Canmore, so monitoring of this is already occurring and has been for several years. Simultaneously there were several legal Tourist Home products brought to market in the last few years which is why perhaps there seems to be “more”. We could certainly increase the staff required for that monitoring if it was felt that one position was not enough but I haven’t hear that is the case and the additional position would need to be a budget consideration.
The process of administrative enforcement is about ensuring that good governance and accountability exits between Town Council and Town administration. We need to discuss factually how many potential non-conforming units exist in the Town. I think it’s important to quantify the problem in order to place the appropriate resources behind it. In addition, we can have discussions with business owners on how we can provide more staff housing in our community. For example, other municipalities have included local business owners in provided working capital in partnership with the Town for projects exclusively used for staff accommodation. Staff housing is a significant and long-term issue for this community.
A couple of years back the town cracked down hard on illegal Airbnbs with fines of $5000 if I recall. I am not sure why we stopped enforcing our Land Use Bylaws. From my perspective if we didn’t build another Tourist Home I would be okay with that. Let’s either build homes for people to live in or hotels.
I am a strong proponent of a Vacancy Tax. Vacant homes degrade the fabric of our community. Houses should be homes. I believe that a vacancy tax would increase the number of units on the market. I also believe in a Rental Rebate Program to encourage property owners to rent their homes on the open market.
At the end of the day, what is required is enforcement. Without budgeting for enforcement and making it a priority, the rules will continue to be ignored.
Here are steps that I would propose:
1. Send out public notices and messaging that by a given date, there will be a crackdown on illegal short-term vacation rentals in improperly zoned areas.
2. At the same time, these public notices would also highlight the housing crisis and let offenders know that they could be a part of the solution. How can we assist them to transition their short term rentals into long-term ones for residents?
3. Have town admin research all offending properties and send information to owners alerting them of the compliance date. As well – specifically contact them about becoming landlords for long-term renters because of the housing crisis. Some one-on-one conversations could help answer questions and convince people.
4. On the deadline day, heavily fine all offenders. The fine must be significant enough to stop people from continuing to break by-laws.
5. Moving forward, commit resources to regularly monitor airbnb, vrbo, kijiji, etc and identify new offenders. It’s important to stay up to date with this.
Question 4 - How would you support and work with employers to ensure staff accommodations are being developed in a timely manner?
Candidates For Mayor
We need to have employers recognize their housing needs and pool resources. The Town approved multi-bed, common amenity units in the Peaks of Canmore apartments, for businesses to rent for their staff. The town could waive or reduce development application fees for common amenity housing, and apartment style housing that would meet the size and demand for workforce requirements.
The Town purchased a piece land near Palliser at the New Life Christian centre, and transferred it the Canmore Community Housing. This land could have a price-protected model of accommodation built with a visioning round-table of all stakeholders with housing needs that fit with CCH.
Speaking personally it’s my opinion no future development applications/ building permits etc. with regard to new Hotels / Motels / Inns (whatever) should go forward without a concurrent viable, realistic plan for staff accommodation. Whether that’s building new facilities, repurposing existing facilities or otherwise, it has to be in place / functional prior to the new hotel opening.
As to the financing, the wheres and whens … and hows…. that will have to be worked out cooperatively with the project proponents.
The Town of Canmore and employers need to work together to solve the staff accommodation crisis in town. This starts with convening a discussion with the business community to explore the issue and get buy-in from all parties that this is something we need to work together to resolve. Then, we need to pursue a private-public partnership of sorts to produce housing in sufficient quantities and reasonable cost to employers.
Whereas Banff was created as a tourism destination and developed staff accommodation early on, to ask each Canmore employer to go and do likewise in a market that is so expensive would result in financial hardship to businesses and less than satisfactory accommodation in many instances. I believe that the Town of Canmore, working in conjunction with Canmore Community Housing, and supported by businesses that need accommodation for employees in order to attract and retain staff will result in a successful project. Of course, this will involve financial or in-kind contributions from all parties in order to make it happen.
Candidates For Council
Partnerships and connections need to be created to find innovative ways to create staff accommodations. I would encourage and support bringing all parties together to form a working group. All parties ( Employers, Builders, CCH and T.OC.) have a roll to play in moving projects forward.
Jyn San Miguel
The Job Resource Centre under the province of Alberta provided a Staff Housing Guide published in 2019. We have to follow this guide. Market research would also allow us to determine important information needed in strategizing for staff housing. We can collect information such as the rates they pay, their satisfaction level, the turnover rate, the timelines living in staff housing and working, etc.
The staff housing guide is on this link here.
For example, the city of New York has their “housing authority ” which has over 5000 buildings in its inventory, this problem has been around for a long time in areas where space is limited. Close to home the Town of Banff, has some good public – private solutions, as well as mandatory staff accommodation, which I would be interested in exploring for Canmore.
Wherever possible, we should have clear requirements and standards for staff accommodation. That includes considering policy changes that ensures new development includes this form of housing.
But what about existing employers?
To support and work with employers to develop staff accommodation, I would like to understand what hurdles exist for providing this form of housing in the community. Additional research would be helpful, especially understanding what has been successful and what has not.
I would be looking to work with leaders in the business community that would like to leverage their resources to seek collective solutions to providing staff accommodations. There are several units at Northview already.
If council updates the comprehensive housing action plan, which I propose we should do, it should also include finding ways to support this kind of housing specifically.
Furthermore, I believe that staff accommodation, to be successful, must have standards that maintain privacy and quality of life. We should be ensuring we are setting expectations around this kind of development.
Staff accommodation and common amenity housing is important. Employers are direct benefactors as well as contributors in providing, properly built and supported accommodations.
Create incentives for employers/developers to build staff accommodations and provide rent below market rate.
Most employers are not required to provide staff accommodation. They likely represent the majority of the employees who experience accommodation either difficult to find or difficult to afford, or both. There have been various efforts over the years to find commercially viable ways of building ‘fee for service’ staff accommodation with little success. I think it is still worth pursuing, but given the COVID experience with congregate housing, it will need to take some different forms.
Employers have to be part of the solution. To the degree they can pay closer to a living wage and to the extent that the market can bear it, they should be encouraged to do so. I have been surprised that employers or groups of employers have not rented blocks of rental units in newly constructed buildings to keep their employees comfortably housed. They should be encouraged to do so. To the extent that they have the financial and program capacity, CCHC, as part of the Vital Homes program should invest in creating unique employee rental accommodation. Employer guarantees may need to be part of that. Council needs to be part of shaping that dialogue.
We need to work together and explore partnering with employers to help ensure staff accommodations are being developed. We also need to look into other ideas and option to ensure that affordable housing and or staff accommodations are being developed throughout all of Canmore. Common Amenity Housing is one specific built form that should be explored as it allows for buildings with separate sleeping facilities and common washing, sanitary and kitchen facilities which could provide for multiple employees. As this built form was only recently added to the land use bylaw, we have not seen its potential usefulness in Canmore to date.
- The best way for this to occur is for business to build their staff accommodation in lockstep with their business infrastructure. Relying on the high-cost rental market to accommodate the need for them is just not going to work anymore as developers aren’t building what the tourism industry needs to meet the housing requirements of those earning below a living wage. That kind of housing needs to be purpose built.
- Our secondary rental market has absorbed all it can in the lower price point of the housing spectrum. If your business model relies on wages below a living wage, then your business needs to consider the provision of housing as a business cost much like our business neighbours to the West do.
- I have had a few ideas that have been shared with industry over the years. One of them is the creation of a housing registry where business and residents can come together to list their available housing safely. Our community has been incredibly lucky over the years to enjoy the help of volunteers that moderate community housing pages on social media at no cost to the industry. Imagine what those community members could do if they were offered renumeration?
- I also feel that there are incredible synergies between the development industry and tourism to come together to build what both their industries need to sustain staff in an expensive housing market.
In addition to my response above, this starts with the conversation with business owners to see what employment gap currently exists and what is expected in the future. There are many different ways municipalities address this challenge such as new businesses providing sufficient staff accommodation during the development stage. Economic sustainability and diversity is important to the Town of Canmore and requires the cooperation and synergy of both businesses owners, community developers, and the Town to work together move in a common direction on the importance of staff accommodation.
I think we could impose timeframes, security deposits and fines for Staff Accom that is supposed to be built out but isn’t.
For employers such as hotels who are creating their own staff accom, I would prioritize these projects through the permitting and development process for quicker completion.
From a broader perspective of increasing affordable housing stock within the community, a host of approaches will be required. I would explore the following:
1. Look into Area Redevelopment Plans where residents work with the town to create options for affordable housing such as accessory dwelling units. This way, as Canmore’s established neighbourhoods evolve, we can increase housing stock within our current footprint.
2. Apply a sliding scale vacancy tax heavily biased towards homes that sit empty for most of the year. These proceeds would finance affordable housing initiatives such as purchasing existing housing and land.
3. Explore other revenue streams such as paid parking for visitors to help fund a Land Bank.
4. Put a pause on new short term vacation rentals and as noted before, crack down on vacation rentals that contravene bylaws.
5. Work with developers to create an effective incentive program for developing affordable housing units that do not undermine Canmore’s character.
Candidates For Mayor
With a new in-house Economic Development Officer, there could be some synergies with the Town EDO. Ultimately, tourism-based businesses need to band together and build an understanding that Tourism needs the voluntary funding of it’s tourism-based business community to compete with other resort communities and thrive. The Town must provide adequate infrastructure to host a visitor population, and advocacy for Resort Municipality Status is key to acquiring that funding.
When the Town was previously involved in the conversation to regulate and create a bylaw, there was push-back from members of the business community that do not consider themselves to be tourism based. The Tourism Task Force may have some recommendations as to how to move forward with this, and how the Tourism sector could align and maximize it’s resources collaboratively, much like our neighbouring Resort communities do, in Banff and Jasper.
I think the Town should be a contributor and active partner in a DMO; but for me, a DMO might be more of a requirement for expansion of the Town of Canmore’s tourism lodging capacity.
It is essential for the success of tourism that a healthy destination management organization exist in Canmore to attract the right visitor to Canmore. The Town of Canmore can provide some supports as the destination management organization takes root again in the community and can facilitate collection of funds if such is needed (i.e. through a business license mechanism). However, the ultimate funding has to come from the membership of the destination management organization in order to be successful. This does not preclude some project based funding from the Town of Canmore, but the Town of Canmore should not be providing funding in lieu of support from tourism related businesses in the community.
Candidates For Council
The town’s role should be to work with a destination management organization. The town could contribute to funding for special projects or events.
Jyn San Miguel
Our neighbour, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism is a destination management organization in which funds come from Destination Marketing Fee (DMF). The town of Canmore has been providing municipal services to its residents and visitors. Unfortunately, despite the number of tourists we welcome in Canmore, we still do not have a Municipal Tourism Status. This status will enable us to collect a tourism levy dedicated to enhancing facilities that our visitors use, such as roads, public washrooms, etc.
More information about the Destination Marketing Fee on: this link.
I am not sure this is within the town’s purview. I think they should remain 2 separate entities, that being said, the town already does a lot to support tourism in the way I think a town should and I would suggest there is more we can do, for example, I would support a higher budget to the Arts and Events department, also I think making the Main street closure, permanent, and do some serious infrastructure upgrades would go along ways towards not only encouraging more time spent downtown. In addition, I’d like to see the Farmers market back on Main Street. Free busses are great, and I would like to see a bike share program like Vancouver has, as a way to keep a few hundred cars a day parked in the hotel parking lots, instead of driving a few hundred meters and taking valuable parking space downtown.
The municipality has a role to play in funding a destination management organization. How to better define that role is a discussion around the business registry and some key principles of accountability and transparency.
It is also important that the DMO has representation on its board from a cross section of the tourism economy. Tourism is an industry of industries, as Travel Alberta top execs have said before.
When council uses the funds at its discretion to support third party organizations, like Tourism Canmore Kananaskis, it is important that this kind of financial relationship include reporting back on objectives and transparency around how funds are spent.
The Town does fund and support Tourism Canmore Kananaskis. Creating an important partnership and a reason for additional financial support is something to work towards.
To properly execute on the Canmore Kananaskis Community Tourism 10-year strategic Plan, a greater Town of Canmore financial support will be required.
Resort Community status which has been granted to about a dozen B.C. communities, is seen as the Holy Grail for solving all the issues related to the Visitor Economy. While I support the idea and have seen the benefits achieved where that or something similar has been applied, it is not a short term play. We need to look for other tools and processes to encourage CHLA and TCK members and other providers of accommodation services to fund this type of organization. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that with willing parties on all sides, solutions are possible. The best possible solution involves visitors, and the industries that support and make their living from them, paying for it. The role of the town in funding a DMO should be limited. Public tax dollar investments should be an incubator or a last resort.
The Town’s role as set out in the Canmore Kananaskis Community Tourism Strategic Plan is to possibly contribute to project-based or operational funding to support the overall strategic plan that is in place. As a DMO falls into this plan it is something that Council needs to consider funding. I am open to having this conversation.
Outside of the occasional grant, I believe that DMO’s need to be self-sustaining. The role of the municipality could be that of fee collector and serve as a financial flow through entity much like our DMO to the West of us.
We should acknowledge that the Town of Canmore has funded Tourism Canmore Kananaskis over the years for initiatives and focused additional support. To what financial level, or what model should that support take in the future, is the more challenging question. It is important for the Town of Canmore to be involved directly in conversations with one of the most significant economic drivers in our community. The Town needs to be aware of the goals and financial needs of this important organization so that we can build a sustainable tourism industry that supports our local economy while being respectful to our mountain community.
I would love to see our town receive Resort Status. With this we could impose a fair taxation for our business sector and a consistent and reliable funding system for our destination marketing and economic development groups.
Given the immense importance of tourism to our community, I believe the town needs to find a more definitive role in funding a destination management organization (DMO). It does us no good to have our DMO face existential issues year-in and year-out. Especially if we are looking for long-term, consistent marketing which creates continuity and visitor confidence.
I’ve mentioned in other forums how we need to be creative in finding other revenue streams. For example, if we can commit a certain portion of parking fees to the DMO, that would bring more financial certainty.
I would love to see an intercept parking lot created whereby the parking fees are funneled towards initiatives such as the DMO, affordable housing, etc. With regards to the downtown core, for non-residents, again there should be elevated parking fees that can help increase revenue.
From a tourist perspective, when I visit Whistler, I have no qualms about paying to park – it’s part of being on vacation. We need to do the same in Canmore.