Banff investigates market rate for sidewalk seats

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“I also believe that a move to a market rate is reasonable and fair given the huge opportunity in the value of this property,” Councilor Barb Pelham said.

BANFF – A market rate to establish fees for sidewalk seating permits for restaurants, bars and cafes in public spaces in the tourist town’s downtown core is under consideration.

Banff’s Governance and Finance Committee voted 5-2 for information on what a market rate structure might look like, but some advisers made it clear that voting for more details doesn’t necessarily equate to support a square footage rate at this point.

Councilor Chip Olver said she could live with a modest fee increase for 2022, but believes Banff is still in recovery mode from the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic of the past two years.

“We need to help our businesses get through this situation they’re living in,” she said, but later indicated she was in favor of getting more information.

“Knowing that if once we see it, if we don’t want to apply it to 2022, we can stay with the current rates, which are based on chairs and tables.”

Currently, Banff sidewalk seating charges are based on the number of tables and chairs under a differential rate for full service patios like licensed restaurants versus a smaller scale counter service patio like a Coffee.

Other communities charge sidewalk seating permits based on a number of different options, such as an on-street rate in Canmore, a commercial rate in Aspen, Colorado, and a tiered rate in Whistler, British Columbia.

Although market rates in the downtown commercial area vary widely based on visibility and accessibility, the administration says an assumption of $100 per square foot falls within the range. For discussion purposes, however, the administration indicated that various discounts should be applied to the $100 per square foot rate to reflect space utilization based on seasonal usage and weather conditions, which would reduce to a rate of $19 prorated per square foot.

This would mean that a high-end full-service patio paying around $3,895 under the existing rate structure for 2022 would drop to $9,909 at the market rate, while a counter-service patio like a cafe would drop from $160 $ in 2022 under existing structure. at $4,540 market rate fee.

“You can see in full-service areas, you’re tripling your charges, and if you’re counter service, you can see the factor is about 30 to 40 times higher in rates,” Darren Enns said. , the director of planning. and development for the Town of Banff.

“In our minds, this could have a detrimental effect in the sense that these counter services could choose not to participate – and this implies higher costs for any operator – at some point there will be a breaking point where people won’t. participate if the fee structure is too high.

Stuart Back, the chief operating officer of Pursuit’s Banff Jasper Collection, which owns the Mount Royal Hotel on Banff Avenue, has objected to increased fees for seating in cafes and retail spaces outdoor retail, calling such a move “untimely and unnecessary.”

“Businesses in Banff are in full economic recovery after a dramatic and very impactful period and will be in this mode throughout 2022,” he wrote in a letter to the board.

“Encouraging the use of this space will have a more beneficial outcome for the community than creating greater cost barriers to entry.”

Councilor Barb Pelham said she agreed 2022 is about economic recovery.

“I also believe that a move to a market rate is reasonable and fair given the tremendous opportunity in the value of this property,” she said.

Com. Pelham said she also understands there should be a differential rate for full table service versus counter service.

“There’s no way counter service can sustain the same rate as table service, so I recognize there’s a difference in what that market rate might reflect,” she said. declared.

Councilor Ted Christensen believes that private operators should pay more for the use of public space for restaurants and sidewalk patios.

“The truth is that since moving away from concerns about the pandemic of distancing and health and safety to becoming dynamic, we are increasing the value of the business,” he said.

Mayor Corrie DiManno is concerned that a significant fee increase based on a market rate, or per-square-foot approach, will discourage many counter service businesses who see less of a positive impact on revenue from participating in the pedestrian zone.

She said the first two years of the Banff Pedestrian Zone are about safety and restrictions associated with the pandemic and the next two years are about economic recovery and creating liveliness and vibrancy in the downtown area.

“What we have to remember here is that we’re not competing with each other, we’re competing now with the reopening of the world to get people here,” she said.

“We know visitors love the experience of al fresco dining in the mountains, so why don’t we do our best to bolster this offering?”

DiManno said she views outdoor dining as an economic driver, not a revenue generator.

“We need to be aware of those who may struggle to pay market value or a significant cost increase,” she said.

Over the past several years, the Town of Banff has generated revenue of $18,300 from 15 sidewalk seating permits in 2018, and $59,490 from 20 permits in 2019. In 2020, fees have removed and in 2021, $99,510 was generated in revenue from 46 permits. Bear Street fees have been removed due to construction impacts.

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