Hello everyone: 

Here are some quick notes on recent and upcoming happenings at Council.  As always, any opinions expressed here are mine alone, and do not represent the position of Council  or the Town of Banff.


Here's what happened with various items on the agenda at the last Council meeting:

On the parking alternatives ...

  • Parking on Bow Avenue:  council voted not to pursue this, because of the visual and safety impact on an important walking/scenic/recreational area.  However, the point was made that handicapped stalls may need to be in place.
  • New surface lot by the hospital:  council voted not to pursue, because of the required tree removal and impact on the aesthetics of the area, and also because they weren't convinced that prospective users would be able/willing to find and use it to park for downtown.
  • Increase directional signage for Cascade Plaza to increase use and move all 12-hour parking there:  this was approved, and administration will bring back the details.
  • Change over Bear St parkade to all one- and three-hour spots:  approved
  • Lease the high school parking lot in the summer:  this was approved for administration to investigate with the school district.
  • Consider attempting to acquire the residence beside the Beaver Street lot for surface lot expansion:  this was approved, and administration will investigate this idea further and -- if it looks possible -- bring costs and timelines back to council.
  • Promote car pooling:  council agreed that there is enough information out there about the virtues of car pooling, and that the main factors that convince people to do it are environmental concern and the cost of fuel.  Therefore, no additional money is going to be spent promoting it, but it will be mentioned as a good idea in town publications, etc wherever possible.  The idea of dedicated parking stalls for car poolers was discussed, but council felt they are too difficult to enforce.
  • Take another look at pay parking:  council asked staff to update the pay parking information that we have from earlier discussions, and bring it back to council for consideration.
  • Consider building another parkade in a location other than Beaver Street:  not approved -- by another 3-3 vote.

On the Re-use-It Centre:

  • Everyone is very excited about the possibilities here, and council voted to have it go into the mix for the 2009 strategy discussions.  At the same time, both council and staff want to make sure that this doesn't negatively affect churches and other organizations that have traditionally made money through rummage sales, and so it was agreed that any idea of this type would be developed by working with those organizations to find a win-win approach.
  • Thanks to Catherine B for directing me to information on the highly successful centres in Portland, Oregon -- take a look at this link if you want to get inspired:  http://www.bringrecycling.org/

On the bylaw review procedure:

  • Administration told Council that they have put a procedure in place that will bring every bylaw back in front of council at least once every three years.  Council was surprised but pleased to learn that this procedure existed.  With this assurance that a responsible approach was already in place, I withdrew my motion.

On the Finance Committee:

  • Council defeated my motion to establish a Finance Committee, with a vote of 4 - 2 (Macdonald and Taylor for).  From the discussion, it is my understanding that the councillors who were opposed feel that sufficient controls, checks and balances are already in place, that Council is already sufficiently informed on the Town's financial performance, that creating a Finance Committee gives you a situation where some councillors are more in the know than others, and that this type of committee would require a lot of extra work by councillors and staff.  In order to satisfy myself that I am doing my duty as a councillor, I will be attempting to personally review over the next few months all the items I had listed for a Finance Committee to do.


Bow River Basin

  • There will be a presentation on water quality objectives and indicators for the Bow River Basin.

Regional Transportation Authority

  • Council will be asked to endorse a regional transportation authority steering committee with reps from Towns of Banff and Canmore, ID9, Tourism Canmore, the ski areas, the accom sector, the transportation sector, and the environment sector, and to appoint the Mayor (who has already been very active on this project) as the town's rep.  This is exciting, because it's one more step along the way toward a coordinated regional transportation system, with transportation to and within Canmore and around Banff National Park destinations including ski areas.  Good for the environment, for tourism, and for the residents!  The province has been asked to provide a substantial grant to help with getting this set up -- we should know their answer by the end of March.

Report on the Lands Adjacent to the Town of Banff:

  • Many of you will remember the LATB planning process, and the exciting ideas that came out of it for environmental protection and recreational use in the area around the Town of Banff.  Parks Canada is not wasting any time on this -- they're already moving forward with some of the Key Actions from the LATB plan.  You can read the brief report on what they're doing by clicking on this link
  • http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1353
  • and scrolling down to page 62. 

Homeless and Hard to House

  • Huge congratulations to FCSS and the BRRR Committee, who have worked together to acquire a grant of $65,000 from the province to provide "street-level" assistance for the next two years to adults who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Banff.  The report estimates that this would be 9 - 14 people per month, on average.  You can see the report by clicking on:
  • http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1353       and scrolling down to page 70.


I was fortunate enough to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Sustainable Communities Conference February 14 - 16 in Ottawa.  The presentations were inspiring and packed with information.  They focussed on solutions, not just on problems.  I came back with lots of ideas that I'd like to investigate further and see whether they can work for Banff. 

Just two of many examples:  Apparently Welland, Ontario  converted to LED streetlights and paid the cost of the project (due to energy savings) in 1.5 years!  And Halifax is dealing with aging water lines as we are, but they've found a technology that allows them to go in and re-line some of the pipes in situ, rather than digging them up and replacing them -- that sounds worth looking into!

I signed up right away for the website/listserve of one of the best presenters -- you can visit it here to check out great case studies and link to other sustainability resources:


You can see the program of the conference by clicking here:


All the best until next time -- Leslie

It's COLD out there!  Is anyone else hoping, as I am, that this weather is killing a few pine bark beetles?


I went to the Futures Planning workshop at the Elementary School on Wednesday.  For any of you who haven't been part of this process yet, I really recommend that you join in on the next one, which will be in March sometime.  Sometimes it's hard to drag yourself out in the evening after a long day, but this process is so important, and it's always fun once you get there. The questions are interesting, the format is engaging, and the discussion is lively!   

Here's a quick rundown of the items coming to Council on Monday.  As always, any opinions I express about these items are mine alone, and do not claim to represent the official position of Council or the Town of Banff:


As you know, by the tightest of margins, Council chose not to pursue a new parkade in the 200 block of Beaver Street.  At that time, staff said they would flesh out some alternatives and bring the ideas back to Council for consideration.  Here's what's being explored:

  1. allow parking of cars (no RVs) on the river side of Bow Avenue
  2. build a new surface lot between the Bow View Lodge and the hospital
  3. make the Cascade Plaza parkade more easily accessible through better signage (last year it was only at 50% occupancy), and redirect all 12-hour parking there.
  4. make the Bear Street parkade for 1-hour and 3-hour parking only
  5. lease the high school parking lot in the summer
  6. consider attempting to acquire the residence beside the existing parking lot in the 200 block of Beaver and adding that lot to the parking lot
  7. promote car pooling
  8. take another look at pay parking
  9. consider building a parkade in another location -- eg the 200 block of Bear Street

You can read the full report with all of the comments from Administration by clicking on


and scrolling through to page 12.   There is a great chart that will show you how many stalls would be gained by using each idea.

The two ideas that I do not support are (2) the surface lot by the hospital (too many trees lost, too much impact on a scenic area) and (9)  a parkade in the 200 block of Bear (spending too much money, and creating a narrow, shaded canyon on what is becoming a very pleasant street).  Pursuing ideas 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 above would give us a projected 160 stalls during the busy summer months (present shortfall is 125), and leave us time to improve our transit system, consider pay parking, and take similar steps to reduce parking demand.


You can see an excellent report about the Town's snow and ice clearing procedures, and new ideas that are being considered, by going to:


and scrolling down to page 19.

You'll see a map with the town's priorities for clearing, and you can read about the present procedures and some of the challenges.  In order to improve the level of service, Council is being asked to think about:

• accelerating the vehicle replacement schedule (specifically related to snow and ice management).  This is because some key equipment has been breaking down frequently, and that slows snow clearing.

• increasing service levels in the 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue.  This is particularly an issue because clearing is more complicated now, what with the handicapped ramps at the corners, planters, wider sidewalk/bench/bike rack areas, etc.

• increasing staffing levels

• changing to potassium acetate de-icing products.  These are potentially as effective as chloride-based products, but much more environmentally friendly.  They're also much more expensive.


Good news - the Catholic Church is being proposed for heritage designation on Monday.


Many communities have places where people can take their lightly used household items that are no longer wanted by them but too good to throw out.  More good news! -- Community Services is looking at establishing a place like this here.  You can read about it at

http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1332  page 45

This will be a better alternative than leaning that old sofa against the bearproof bin!


I'm proposing two procedure changes to Council on Monday:

1.  Re-establishing a Finance Committee:  You may be surprised to hear that Council doesn't have one!  I think it would be useful to have a joint council-staff committee to go over financial policies and procedures, and review variances from budget (among other things).  I know that staff works very hard on the town's financial management, but I believe that most Banffites expect councillors to be pretty involved in the Town's finances, and that you want us to be keeping a close eye on your behalf.

2.  Having a systematic approach to bylaw review, so that every bylaw comes back in front of council every 3 - 4 years.  It's all too easy for bylaws to sit on the books and not be reviewed until an issue comes up.  I think it would be useful for two bylaws to come to each meeting of council, so that councillors, staff, and the general public are regularly reminded of what is in the town's bylaws, and have a chance to flag things that are no longer needed or should be updated.

I know I'm not supposed to bombard you with emails, but maybe just this once ... there was so much interest in the various topics in my email update that I decided to do a followup on what happened ...


Because I received several interesting and thoughtful comments on why it's hard to see/remember these crosswalks, and what we can do to improve them, I copied all the comments into one email which I sent off to the Town staff who are working on the Banff Avenue project.  I took your names off, because I wanted to respect your privacy.


As you know, the question of how much the Town should do to try to set standards for day homes was a hot topic.  However, with the help of some additional information from the staff, we've ended up with a bylaw that I believe strikes a good balance.  Here's how it works -- if you apply for a Family Day Home (that is, you're affiliated with the provincially approved Day Home Agency in Canmore, and you have to follow their standards) then all development permit fees are waived by the town, and your business licence will be covered by the Agency.  As well, parents using an approved Family Day Home get their fees subsidized by the province.  On the other hand, if you apply for a Private Babysitting Service, which is not subject to the Agency, then all the fees apply and there is no subsidy.

I think this is a good approach, because it will encourage interested operators to become Day Homes, with all the standards in place, and that helps to cover the concerns about doing the best job we can for the children. 

I have to say, though, that I have really been reminded throughout this process that parents really have to know and be involved with their child care provider.  In the end, the parents are the ones most responsible for the maintenance of standards. 


In the end, sections 63 and 64 remained as they were -- I guess my points about the light hand of responsible democracy and treating people based on their actual behaviour (vs. what you think they're going to do ) were not convincing enough.  It's fortunate that we have such great police and bylaw folks here so that we can trust them to apply this section with discretion.


Council passed a motion that we will consider more than one advance polling day, and that one of those days will be at least a week ahead of the election.  Because town staff strongly recommended staying with Town Hall as a location, we agreed that -- rather than requiring a move -- all pictures and text items that relate to a candidate or an election issue will be removed or covered during voting times.

And that's "what happened next"!  Remember to let me know if you have a place near you (such as Lost Camper Avenue) where people have trouble with wayfinding.