Hello everyone:

Here are a few highlights of recent doings at Town Hall, upcoming events, and what's on the agenda for tomorrow's council meeting.


Let's start with the item that's on everyone's mind -- and in my email inbox, as well.  There's no question that we dropped the ball on traffic measures over the long weekend.  We made some wrong assumptions, and I apologize for that.  The good news is that council and staff put a lot of thought last week into where we go from here, and a whole range of improvements (more flaggers, flaggers in different locations, better detour/directional signage, changing the settings on traffic lights, diverting people early to better routes, making sure people can find and access parking lots and the parkade, etc etc) are in the "toolkit" for future use depending on the traffic levels.


We're not going to see completion of Banff Avenue as early as we had hoped.  Late frost in the ground, followed by the present rain, has made concrete work difficult and caused some delays.  But don't those trees look great?!


A lot of people are asking about Banff Housing Corporation's hopes for the Cave Avenue lots, and about what can and can't be built under the current bylaw, etc.  This Wednesday evening (May 28), from 6 - 8 pm, there's an open house at the Cave and Basin to share some info about this and to hear from the public.  I hope to see you there.  This is not a done deal, and public input is very important.


The new transit system will be running June 2.  Check out www.banff.ca for information.


Carbon offset funding

The Town is in a position to gain about half a million dollars by selling our carbon credits from the in-vessel composting at the wastewater treatment plant.  This money could be put into further greenhouse gas reduction projects.  You can read the complete report at

http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1486  on pages 11-20

Sidewalk Cafe Seating Policy 

After doing a public open house and an online survey about the Sidewalk Seating Policy, the planning department has made a lot of changes to the policy -- real improvements, in my opinion.  At the same time, the report, which you can see at

http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1486 on pages 34 - 56

recommends that we sideline this idea for now and reconsider it when the new Banff Avenue has been in place for a year.  This is in response to public concern that it may reverse what the Banff Avenue project was meant to do - provide unobstructed walking space for pedestrians.  I think this is a reasonable suggestion.  We can make a better decision when we have had a chance to watch how the new configuration operates.


At tomorrow's council, we will be looking at Q1 results for the town, and the forecast to year-end.  I'm disappointed to see that we are already forecasting going over-budget at year-end.  It's not by much, but I'd like to start looking for economies now to make sure that this trend does not continue.  Certainly new priorities and ideas come up during a budget year, but -- in my opinion -- that means that you have to make choices and drop other things that are at the bottom of the list, rather than just adding on.

As I've said in an earlier blog entry, I'm delighted that the Town will now be having these forecast reviews quarterly, rather than once a year as was being done before.  This is one of the outcomes I had hoped for when I suggested a finance committee, and I'm glad that it has come to pass even though the committee idea was defeated.


These council updates represent my personal opinion, and may not reflect the official position of the Town of Banff or Banff Town Council. 

Just a quick note to let you know that I came home from Spain much earlier than expected, having found out that my flu virus was not quite finished with me after all!

Although I'm disappointed to have my trip cut short, I am pleased to be here for the review of the town's 2007 financials, which will take place at Council tomorrow. You can see the information on the Town's 2007 financials by clicking on this link: http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1476

and scrolling down to pages 11 through 119.

I have spent most of the weekend going through all of this in detail, and will be asking a bunch of questions about overall financial procedures and individual department results in the meeting tomorrow

With best wishes - Leslie

Although I was very disappointed when I was unable to convince Council of the need for a Finance Committee, I'm now quite pleased about some of the things council and staff have been doing lately with the Town's financial procedures and policies.

Purchasing policy:  we reviewed and clarified the policy related to purchasing from councillors, staff members and their immediate families. 

Financial disclosure:  staff are working on a bylaw to require financial disclosure from councillors and staff members.  It has been pointed out to me that this wasn't part of the "job description" when people ran for council or accepted staff positions.  I understand and respect that position, and realize that we may need to bring this in on a volunteer basis for now, with new councillors and staff members bound by the bylaw in future.  But I think full financial disclosure is a long-term goal worth working for.  We'll see how it plays out when the bylaw comes to Council.

Quarterly forecasting:  the town is instituting quarterly financial forecasting, instead of once a year in September, which was the practice in the past.  I'm delighted about this.  I think it will enable us to see and respond to trends as they develop.  You manage what you measure -- measuring our financial performance on a more frequent basis will make us better financial managers.  Reviewing these figures at council will help councillors better understand what things cost and where the money is spent, making us more effective at budget time, and better at evaluating internal controls and financial practices.

Tangible assets policy:  we've had a few discussions at council about how items like furniture or sewer pumps end up in the operational spending rather than in capital.  The town is working on a policy/procedure that will clarify which items go where, and this is a very positive step.

Cheque lists:  the lists of all the cheques the town writes are now automatically distributed to reporters who want them, as well as to a broader list of council members than in the past.  This transparency helps assure accountability for the spending of public money.