Canmore Commercial Needs Study

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Fig 1. Map illustrating the Town of Canmore’s existing retail and commercial uses within their downtown.

In spring 2014 GP Rollo & Associates and Reurbanist jointly engaged to undertake a Commercial Needs Study for the Town of Canmore. The purpose of this study was to assess current retail and commercial services, evaluate Canmore against benchmark communities, reveal gaps and growth opportunities, and inform future policy development.

The study was delineated into five phases of work:

1. Project Kick-Off: Meeting, Site Visit, and Stakeholder Interviews

The team spent one week in the market and conducted meetings with key stakeholders to determine what community members thought the town’s key issues were.

2. Environmental Scan

The Environmental Scan is intended to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Town’s current commercial land use context.

Fig 2. Charts showing the Town of Canmore’s total retail and commercial inventory by type of tenant.

Fig 3. Chart illustrating how much retail and commercial space by type is located between .5 km intervals from the town’s centre.

Fig 4. Map and charts showing what kinds of retail and commercial tenants are located within the Gateway District.

  3. Retail & Service Commercial Demand Projections

This section used quantitative data to forecast how much retail and commercial space can be supported in 2014, 2019, 2024, and 2034.

Variables analyzed included sources of retail spending (permanent, non-permanent residents, overnight & day visitors, commuters, and inflow). 

Fig 5. Chart illustrating retail and commercial demand in 2034.

4. Peer Comparison & Market Trends

Canmore was benchmarked against six peer communities that were deemed to have comparable attributes in terms of population, economy, and tourism industries in order to determine what retail and commercial categories were either over or under supplied.

Fig 6. Chart showing how Canmore’s retail and commercial inventory compares to the other benchmark communities’ inventories.

The consultant team then summarized key retail development market trends that are taking place in the Canadian market to assist town planners in understanding how future demand should be accommodated.

Key trends included:

  • The Impacts and Decline of Big Box Retail
  • The Re-emergence of the Town Centre

Utilizing GIS analysis the team then identified several sites for infill development that might be suitable for accommodating future retail and commercial service demand in the upcoming years.

 5. Policy Directions

The last section of the study outlined a number of action items that town planners and other key stakeholders should undertake in the short and long term to ensure the town grow in a manner that will increase their competitiveness against similarly positioned towns.

Areas in which the consultant team provided recommendations on included the Town of Canmore’s:

  • Limits on store sizes
  • Municipal development plan (MDP) – the town’s masterplan for growth
  • Development application
  • Town centre action items – both short and long term

In the News:

December 12, 2013; Canmore OKs commercial study terms, despite concerns

About the Author


Reurbanist is a multi-disciplinary firm that blends land use economics with urban planning and economic development. At its core, Reurbanist believes that great urban places that are compelling and vibrant must find success at both a fiscal and social level. Stronger cities and urban destinations translate into improved job growth, municipal tax revenue, and a higher quality of life for residents.

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