Hello everyone:


Here’s a quick update on the heavy agenda that’s coming to council on Monday.  As always, any opinions that I express about the topics are my opinions alone, and do not purport to represent the position of the Town of Banff or the rest of council.  I welcome your thoughts!




As you’ll probably remember, after the parkade was turned down, staff agreed to come back to council with more detailed information about costs and timelines for a range of ideas in tended to increase parking supply and reduce demand.  These ideas are coming back to Council on Monday.  They include:

  • Change parking duration from 12 hr to 3 hr at Bear Street Parkade and relocate long term users to Cascade parkade.  I think this is a good idea, because locals – who tend to be the longterm parkers – can find the Cascade parkade, and visitors don’t seem to be able to.
  • High School parking lot for July and August.  According to the report coming to council, the school board has kindly agreed to allow this for no charge.  This provides 31 more longterm parking stalls.  To alleviate neighbourhood concerns about noise, this parking lot will be closed after 10 pm each night.
  • Acquisition of lot adjacent to Beaver Street parking lot.  This would be a very expensive option – approximately $31.5K per parking stall – but still a much, much lower cost per parking stall than a parkade. I certainly think this could be a good idea, but I want to ask some questions on Monday about how the value of the lot was determined – it’s hard to figure out market value for a house in that position, because it’s very difficult to point out comparable sales...
  • Pay Parking Feasibility Study.  I think we should go ahead with a relatively inexpensive ($14K) updating of the pay parking study from a decade ago.  Technology has changed so much in this field that some of the concerns about “rows of parking meters”, etc may be less of a factor this time around.  As I’m sure most of you know, I’m in favour of paid parking as a demand-side parking management tool, and a way to help fund better public transit.
  • Free one-way one-time transit passes for hotel and campground guests.  We’re considering this as a way to get hotel and campground guests to use their base as an “intercept parking lot” and take the transit from there on in. 
  • Increased transit frequency.  Infrequent buses make people less likely to use transit.  However, to increase the frequency on routes, we would need more transit buses, and more bus bays in the new facility at the Compound.  The good news is that we have that recent grant of over $410K from the feds for this program.  The bad news is that it would cost more than this to increase frequency.  But it’s still lower cost than a parkade.




As I mentioned in my last update, we will be looking at the part of the policy that relates to purchases from councilors, staff members, and their immediate families.  The recommendation in the report to council is to change the wording of the policy to make it clear that – as long as the price is competitive and the transaction is one that would normally take place in day-to-day business – purchases from councilors, staff members etc should be treated just like any other purchases.  As I’ve mentioned before, I feel that we should be a bit more scrupulous than this, and require that at least a listing of such purchases come to Council on a regular basis, so that the information is public.  I also feel that the process of checking to ensure the price is competitive should be documented – in other words, managers should need to keep on file the names of the other vendors that they talked to about the same purchase.  It will be interesting to see how this discussion goes.




As I’ve mentioned before, the Glulam arch turned out to be an inappropriate design for the span and shoreline conditions.  The new recommended design is something called a “haunched steel girder”, which is still low-profile and quite attractive.  Although the Municipal Planning Commission was told that this bridge would be more expensive than the Glulam proposal,  the report to council suggests that it can be built within the original project budget of $2 million.


I know that many of you think this bridge is a great idea, and many of you do not.  My own feeling is that it will not do the job many people imagine it will:  the job of reducing bike/pedestrian crowding and increasing safety on the current bridge.  The reason is that the vast majority of south side residents and tourists, because of their normal route of travel to go to downtown, will hit the existing bridge before they come to the pedestrian bridge.  The current model supposes that those people will stop at the lights, cross the crosswalk on the existing bridge, then ride or walk down past the Luxton to get to the new pedestrian bridge, then back across Central Park to rejoin Banff Avenue.  I know that many people have said they will do this – but it just doesn’t sound like human nature to me. 


I’m concerned that we will borrow $900K to build a bridge that essentially links Central Park and the Rec Grounds, and then find that what we really needed to increase pedestrian and bike traffic was a bridge in a different location.  Then, in order to try to make the bridge function the way everyone hoped, an additional $200K will be spent creating a trail from Middle Springs to the Rec Grounds – a trail that, because it is on a steep north-facing slope, will be snowy/icy much of the year. Then, after all of that, there will still be demand for a pedestrian bridge – downstream from the existing traffic bridge.




Council will be asked to set the residential and non-residential mill rate on Monday.  As you’ll recall, Council voted in the 2008 budget last December, including an approximately 5% tax increase.  So, if your property has increased in value at the average rate for a Banff property, your taxes are likely to be around 5% more than last year.  If your property has increased in value more than the average Banff property, your increase will be more.   If your property has increased in value less than the average Banff property, your tax increase will be less. 




If all goes well and I manage to fight off the flu virus that is making merry in my respiratory system right now, I will be leaving on April 29 to go hiking in Spain – for those of you who know about my 800-km hike last spring, this is the 700-km part that I didn’t get to finish.  I will miss two council meetings in May, but will be back for the first meeting in June.  Because I will be out of email and voicemail reach during my vacation, I’ll be donating my paycheques for May back to the Town on my return.  This is a personal choice of my own and does not mean that I think councillors shouldn’t take vacations!


Hello everyone:

 What a beautiful spring day it is out there!  A few notes on Council doings, and then I'm off for a long walk.

In this message, there's information about what happened at the March 25 meeting, what is coming to Council on April 14, and also a couple of items that are coming on April 28 that I'd like to get your input on.


Since I didn't provide a council update before the last meeting, I thought you might like to hear about a few of the things from that agenda:

  • Caribou Properties presented the Town with a generous donation of $100,000 toward the pedestrian bridge, and a promise of $200,000 more for a second pedestrian bridge downstream.  This leaves the Town with $384,000 still to raise to reach the  $500,000 fundraising target.
  • I provided an update on the work of the Bow River Basin Council, and especially on their draft plan for water quality in the Bow River.  You can see information about this plan on their website:  http://www.brbc.ab.ca/Bow%20Basin%20Watershed%20Management%20Plan%20Information%20Page.asp
  • Council voted to spend up to $100,000 for an A-list Canadian band to provide a free concert on Banff Avenue in mid to late July, in order to celebrate the completion of the Banff Avenue reconstruction.  Councillor Macdonald and I voted against this motion.  Besides worrying about the cost, the impact on newly-planted landscaping, the impact on Banff Avenue merchants, and the effect of putting all the event dollars into one type of entertainment, I am concerned that it will reinforce an image of Banff as a "party town" that just happens to be in a mountain setting, rather than the image of Banff as the visitor base for the national park.  Perhaps I'm out to lunch, though, because I was assured by staff in the meeting that they have talked to Parks and Parks Canada has endorsed this concert as a good idea.  Other councillors and staff feel strongly that this is the right way to go, and I know they will put their best efforts into making it a successful event.
  • The municipal assessor and Tom Maier did a great presentation on how assessment of property for tax purposes works.  This is something few people understand, and yet it's important to all property-owners -- I'm going to ask for their PowerPoint to be put up on the Town's website, because it's so educational.
  • Council finished the amendments to the Business Licence Bylaw that were initiated as part of the Family Day Homes discussion.


It's a pretty light agenda, as you can see at http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1423


A few highlights:

  • Banff, as a member of the Calgary Regional Partnership, is being asked to support a major funding request to the provincial government to plan for better transit connections between all the neighbouring municipalities in the region.  If the province provides the funding, this plan would help the Calgary area ensure that new development is transit-friendly, that locations for transit facilities and services are identified and protected, and that a governance model for regional transportation is in effect.  We probably won't be directly affected by this, because we're already working on our own regional transit commission, but it's certainly a good initiative to support, and will not require any funding from the Town of Banff. 

  • Council is being asked to remove the "maximum amount' cap from building permit fees for single family and duplex housing.  You can see the report by going to http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1423  and scrolling down to page 30.  My initial feeling is that this could be phased in, rather than implemented all at once, but I have a list of questions to ask before I vote on this one.

  • The colourful "wraps" for the new hybrid transit buses appear to cost more than the original estimate, and Council will be asked on Monday to approve the additional $12,200.  Parks Canada is kindly funding $45,000 of this project, because the wraps will be images of park wildlife, and there will be interpretive panels inside the buses.  You can see the full report at  http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1423   , scroll down to page 41
  • There is a letter from Alberta Municipal Affairs on the agenda, committing to a grant of $75,000 from the provincial government to help with the organization of a Regional Transportation Authority.  You'll remember that this is the joint project with the town, Canmore and ID9, along with various stakeholder groups, organizing a regional transportation authority/commission.  Having an integrated system of public transportation throughout our region is so important -- it's great to see this project moving ahead.



The following items are scheduled to come to council on April 28:

  • The Town's purchasing policy:  this is coming back because of a discussion we have had about how to interpret the section about purchasing goods or services from Council members, staff members, or their immediate family.  I feel very strongly that this automatically creates the potential for a conflict of interest, and that all such purchases should be subject to rigorous controls, that such purchases should be made public, and that we should avoid "single-sourcing" from a councillor or staff member.  Some other folks feel that I am over-reacting, that most such purchases do not result in conflicts of interest, and that purchases from Council members or staffers can be handled more or less the same way as all other purchases, except in highly unusual cases.  What do you think?  Is this an issue, or am I blowing it out of proportion?

  • Wayfinding: the draft report for new directional signage will come to Council.

  • Bylaw annual statistics and new uniform standards:  I'm curious to know what you think about bylaw officer uniforms.  Most enforcement agencies -- our own included -- have gone for dark uniforms (dark shirts, dark pants).  I'd like to see us return to light-coloured shirts.  I think lighter colours make the officers look friendlier and more approachable.  Do you agree?  Or are you happy with the darker uniforms?

  • Parking downtown:  we'll be getting follow-up reports on the timelines and costs for the options that are still on the table -- increasing occupancy in Cascade, changing Bear Street over to 1-hour and 3-hour only, acquiring land to add a lot to the Beaver Street surface parking, etc.

  • Pedestrian bridge update:  I expect staff will be reporting back on how the design work and the fundraising are going.

  • Taxation rate:  finalizing the "mill rate" for residential and non-residential taxes.



It’s important to note that these council updates represent my personal opinion, and may not reflect the official position of the Town of Banff or Banff Town Council. 

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