The Town of Banff is set to debate a controversial proposal which recommends placing a cap on the number of chain stores and restaurants that can operate in the picturesque mountain community.

On Monday, Banff town council will debate a bylaw that will limit the number of so-called “formula” chains -- businesses with 12 or more locations that have a standardized look, merchandise or menu.

The proposed Bylaw 314 has divided the community, pitting some small business owners against those who believe the free market should dictate what the town needs.

While chains such as Lululemon and Starbucks have coexisted alongside such one-of-a-kind retailers as the popular Banff Sweet Shoppe, some small business owners are worried the town will lose its unique charm.

“I’m very worried that it could look like a strip mall. We already have a lot of chains. There doesn’t seem to be any limit,” Suzanne Gillies Smith, a local tea shop owner, told CTV News.

But not everyone agrees town council should go out of their way to protect the community’s mom-and-pop stores.

In fact, the debate has dominated conversation in the popular tourist destination, located in Banff National Park, since town council introduced the motion last summer.

There’s a mix of shops and restaurants in the town and visitors and residence alike should have the freedom to choose where they spend their money, said Darren Reeder, executive director of the Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association.

“By all accounts, what you see on the street today is evidence of the fact this is the mix that the consumers want,” he told CTV News.

If passed, the bylaw will also effect smaller to medium sized chains -- something that worries many business owners that have storefronts in malls and plazas.

“I think it’s stifling for business,” said Vyetta Sunderland, spokesperson for Cascade Plaza.

“I think there are already voids in the marketplace in Banff in terms of diversity and I think that this bylaw would further restrict businesses wanting to come into Banff.”

With a report from CTV’s Janet Dirks