Banff will debate chain store quotas 0
Banffites will finally get their say on chain store quotas in January.
Town council narrowly voted for first reading of the bylaw that would limit the number of chain restaurants and retail stores in town. Coun. Grant Canning brought the vote back to the table Monday after the bylaw was initially shot down by council in July. He was able to revive the bylaw because he had originally voted against it. With his vote and Coun. Chip Olver's - who had been absent during the first vote - along with previous supporters Coun. Leslie Taylor and Coun. Brian Standish, it got through, triggering a public hearing in January.
But other councillors were adamant this was the wrong direction for the town to take.
Coun. Paul Baxter said this bylaw was a "knee jerk reaction to a perceived boogie man," and that town council couldn't be all things to all people.
"It's us trying to appease a few vocal residents who have become a town crier who are trying to address their flawed business plans," he said.
Baxter said even having the discussion was harming the local economy. He pointed to an online CBC article that appeared Monday morning saying the town was "considering closing its doors to chain stores."
"It's hurting the economy locally as we speak and I don't think the Town of Banff has a position to intervene in the market," he said.
Coun. Stavros Karlos became convinced a quota system was not right for Banff after a recent trip to California where he met with officials from seven municipalities that have chain store restrictions, or have recently discussed the issue.
He said in those cases, it was primarily a political choice made to pursue a set of values for a community, but the economics of it were too risky for Banff.
"There is a high level of risk associated with this market intervention with uncertain outcomes," he said.
"We cannot foresee what the next 20 years will bring, nor should we attempt to pick winners and losers."
But the majority felt a quota should be examined, and Taylor said the town owed residents the chance to debate the topic and bring closure to the issue.
"I feel that the Town of Banff itself - some time ago before I was on council - raised community expectations there would be some kind of resolution on formula businesses that would come to this table. and would be publicly debated," she said.
"I think we owe that kind of public debate and closure - however temporary - on the issue."
With the vote passing 4-3, a public hearing will be held in January, though no specific date has been set.
Voting for first reading does not mean a quota system has been approved, or that council will ultimately support it.