A windy afternoon on the campaign trail today!  Many thanks to all the folks who welcomed me at your doors and chatted about the issues.  Special thanks to Phil Carmody's 5-year-old daughter Michelyn, who has become such a seasoned campaigner that she accompanied me around Lougheed Circle to show me how to do it right!

Major discussions today were about the challenges facing the tourism industry, the proposed new rec centre, the debt issue, and how to get younger voters involved.

Speaking of younger voters, kudos to Ms. Moleski and Mr. Shields of BES for really engaging the Grade Sixes in learning about the municipal election.  While door-knocking, I have heard about this project from several Grade Sixes and their parents, and it sounds like everyone is finding it very interesting. 

The fall sunshine was warm, but the air was crisp, on Saturday afternoon in Middle Springs 2.  At least three families had celebrated the first snow by building snowmen.  A birthday party in the Cabin was in full swing.  And the views were spectacular -- Rundle, Cascade, and everything in between, with a fresh dusting of snow.

Lots of interesting discussion:  debt, the pedestrian bridge, herbicides on lawns, how hard it is to get chain stores to support local non-profit events, the Housing Corporation and tree preservation were the big topics of the day. 

On the topic of trees:  As I mention elsewhere in my website, I would like to see a greater emphasis by the Town on the health of our urban forest.  In the last few years, I feel that we have been losing more trees than we are replanting. 

 One Middle Springs couple told me that they had heard that the Town's "tree budget" is fully expended on dead or fallen tree removal, with no money left over for planting new trees.  I haven't seen the budget, so I don't know this for sure, but I hope it's not true. 

 Trees are a lot more than an aesthetic resource for our town, although that part is very important (Can you imagine living in a town without trees?).  They're part of our environmental infrastructure -- filtering pollutants, removing greenhouse gasses, stabilizing slopes, diminishing stormwater impacts, providing habitat for birds, lowering the energy needs of adjacent houses by cooling them in summer and insulating them in winter.  They're part of our tourism infrastructure -- helping to create the beauty of a small, woodsy town in the Canadian Rockies.

We need to be more active in protecting trees and replacing lost trees.  I'd like to see the Town devote resources to doing this.

A voter in Middle Springs had a great suggestion to help make tree replacement more affordable:  a "memorial tree" program, like the very popular "memorial bench" program.  Imagine buying a new tree for the town to celebrate someone's 80th birthday, or a special anniversary, or to remember a dear friend or relative.  With appropriate plaques, we'd all be able to refer to the trees by name.  "Have you seen how Mrs. B's tree is doing down by the library?" , we could say.

Next time you go for a walk here in town, look up at the canopies of the trees you pass.  Notice the dead pines, and the other trees that have been stressed by careless development nearby.  Now look at eye level, and notice the replacement trees, so few and so small.  Let's do a better job on our urban forestry, so that our trees can continue to protect, serve and beautify our town. 

You can read more about urban forests at this link: 


A couple of days ago, the CBC had a story about some research done by the University of Calgary.  Apparently, kids who live in newer subdivisions spend less time playing outside, because of the car-oriented design of those subdivisions.

Well, I wish the researchers could have seen  Sulphur Court last evening.  Kids playing in the cul-de-sac, dogs being walked, dads chatting in the driveways, the mouth-watering scent of dinner wafting from the kitchen windows -- it was great! 

At the doors, I got into lots of discussions about debt and even more about the proposed parkade.  Thanks to everyone who took time out of your dinner hour to chat with me, and thanks for all the encouragement!  I'm including some thoughts below about these two big discussion issues.

On debt:  frequently, we read in the paper that the increases in building costs outweigh the cost of borrowing.  "Build now," we're told, "because it will cost more to build in the future".  I think that this argument is a good one when what you're building is essential.  I've got no argument with the borrowing that was done for Banff Avenue downtown reconstruction.  Essential road work and utility replacements are worth borrowing for, if your capital reserves aren't up to the task.  A pedestrian bridge or a second parkade -- not so much, at the present time.  It's like borrowing to buy a house to live in versus borrowing to buy a summer cottage.

On a second parkade:  here are some thoughts I presented at the Community Plan review:

Parking is a multi-faceted issue.  First, it is an issue of way-finding.  When I come downtown by car, I can almost always find parking within a block of my destination.  I'll bet you can, too.  If we can do that, and visitors can’t, then we have a way-finding issue.  I’m delighted to see that way-finding improvement is an objective of the new community plan. 

Next, parking is an issue of reasonably balancing needs and demand.  It is unreasonable to expect that everyone will be able to find a parking spot within a block of his/her destination on July 1.  With that in mind, do we really have a capacity problem?  This summer, I watched the spaces indicator on the Bear Street parkade every time I passed it.  I saw it under 50 stalls of availability four times.  I understand that the Cascade Plaza parkade had space all summer. Yet this summer was probably as demanding a situation as we are likely to face in the life of the plan.   

Let’s not make decisions for the sake of four days a year.  We can “increase facilities”, not through additional stalls, but through the way-finding objective that is already in the plan and through the ways we manage existing parking to ensure efficient use. 

It was a busy evening in Middle Springs!  I was door-knocking in the downhill half of Middle Springs 1, and Marilyn Bell and her cheerful team were doing the same for John Gibson's campaign.  Marilyn and I are Grizzly Street neighbours, so it was fun to run into her on the campaign trail.  And everyone in Middle Springs was very nice about being "campaigned at" twice in one evening! 

As always, there were interesting conversations at doors, in front halls, in kitchens.  Tonight's chats centred around concern over debt, ideas about the pedestrian bridge, and the need for some lights along the heavily used wooded trail from the Admin Grounds to Middle Springs. 

I spent an interesting hour at Town Hall this afternoon, along with fellow candidates John Gibson, Grant Canning and Erich Mende, watching Council grapple with some of the updates to the Community Plan.

I was delighted that they chose to add a clear reference to the commercial growth cap.  This will help anyone who reads the plan understand the unique context of our community.

I was also really pleased that they included a reference to the management of noise.  They have not yet chosen an indicator to go with this goal, but it seems to me that "numbers of noise complaints" might be one good measure!

In spite of low clouds and the threat of rain, I enjoyed going door to door in the upper half of Middle Springs I.  With the gloomy weather, a few more people were at home today.  Several new topics came up in discussions at the door:  creating a balance of viewpoints on council, having an overall vision and strategy for the town, and having strong environmental programs.

 When I reached Kim and Mandy's place, I was delighted to hear from them that Arlene Rheaume has stepped in to fill the third vacancy on School Board.  Having a strong school board is always important, but especially during the present major planning exercise.  Congratulations and thanks to Kim Bater, Sheila Snowsell, and to Arlene for being willing to serve our community -- I know they will do a wonderful job of representing the needs of Banff schools, parents and students at this critical time.

What a beautiful fall day -- just perfect for strolling around Valleyview.  I had a great time going door to door, seeing old friends and meeting new people. 

 For those of you that weren't home, sorry I missed you, but I'm glad you were out enjoying the day!  I hope you found the sticky notes on your doors with my website address.

I had some interesting conversations:  signage in town, the pedestrian bridge, and traffic closures for race events were the subjects of the day. 

I really appreciate Erich Mende’s idea of putting everyone’s links up on his blog, so I’m going to follow his lead and do the same.  Here are the sites that I know about at present – they give us all a great opportunity to get to know Council candidates and decide where our votes should go …







What’s all the fuss about indicators in the Community Plan, and why do I think they’re important?  

Clear indicators are where the rubber hits the road.  This is where people actually begin to understand the intent of the plan, and how they will be affected by its implementation.  The draft plan says that the indicators are “the measures we will use to determine if the Community Plan is being implemented successfully.”

So, for the various goals and objectives in the Plan, the document (which you can see at this link:http://www.banff.ca/business/planning-development/banff-community-plan/community-plan-review.htm  ) includes indicators, such as “numbers of visitors”, “consumption of water”, and so on. But here’s the problem — the draft plan doesn’t say whether we want these things to go up or down, neither does it say “by how much”.

In order to tell whether we’re meeting the goals of the plan, for each indicator, the Town would need to know where we are now, where we want to be, and how far along that road the Town intends to get within the 5-year life of the plan.

Let’s take one of the indicators as a typical example: from page 26, “Number of visitors”.  In its present form, any reader of the plan can put his/her own interpretation on that indicator.  Different people might want the town’s visitation to go up, to go down, to stay the same, and each one of those readers could assume that the Town’s intent is the same as his/her own.   

To be meaningful, this indicator would need to be written like this: “2007 visitation is x, our ideal level of visitation is y, and within the 5-year life of this plan, we hope to get to z”.  

I can completely understand that everyone will heave a large sigh at the thought of still more work.  But doing this work will make the difference between vague direction and clear direction.  I think that we’ve already shown an appetite for grappling with the issues on a level of substance, rather than concept.  A lot of good information exists in the Community Indicators project, which could provide a springboard for focused discussion and recommended direction.  And perhaps we could just choose the top 20 priorities in the plan, and set out meaningful indicators for those.

If Council revisits the indicators in the plan, and decides on measurable targets for the most important ones, we will have accomplished several important tasks:

  • we will make sure that the implications of the plan are clear to Banffites, helping us all make personal and business decisions based on a clear understanding of where the town is headed in the next five years.
  • we will be providing clear and unequivocal direction to Town staff, so that they can carry out the true intent of the plan.
  • we will make it clear which goals and objectives of the plan are intended to be the main priorities over the next five years.  There are many, many excellent objectives in this plan – much more than five years’ worth.  It would be good to identify the top, short-term priorities.
  • we will ensure that the Minister is clearly informed of the direction of the Town, making his approval more likely.
  • we will be keeping

    Banff in the municipal planning forefront as an example of best practices in planning and regulation.

I've now sent off my first ads to the Crag and the Outlook.  Huge, huge thank-yous to the folks who are helping out by sponsoring my ads!  I really appreciate your contributions -- and your willingness to put your names in the paper as supporting my campaign.

And, speaking of newspapers, I'm actually interested in quality services for residents, not "quality services for residence"!