On a perfect, sunny fall afternoon, this is what I heard at the doors:

The new look of Banff Avenue came out on top again on the list of "likes".  Several people also mentioned the recycling and organics program as a very positive service.

Individual households were happy about:

  • the secondary suite policy
  • the lighted crosswalk at Fox Street
  • the way the Town responds to residents' concerns

Support was expressed by individual households for the Rec Centre project and for the pedestrian bridge.

On the question of what we could do to improve, two households mentioned their opposition to Banff Live.  All the other comments were individual:

  • a concern about writing in with a complaint and not receiving a reply
  • a concern about the need for better snow-ploughing and street sweeping in residential areas
  • a concern that the recycling depot downtown looks messy on the weekends
  • comments about Banff Avenue:  specifically, safety concerns re the clump of trees at Banff and Buffalo near the Beaujolais, safety concerns re the mid-block crossings, and a request to update the median in front of the Legion to match the rest of downtown.
  • a request to consider "pedestrian scrambles" at the main intersections in downtown (this is where all pedestrians cross at once, in all directions)
  • a concern about the removal of garbage bins, and whether sufficient service will remain
  • a request for more parking downtown
  • a concern that maps on the town website load very slowly
  • a concern about the wage levels for Town staff making it tough for other employers.  "Using my money to compete against me for staff" was the quote.

It was a blustery, windy afternoon in Middle Springs 2 yesterday, but warm welcomes at the doors made up for it!  I must have been on the trail of the Blake Richards team, because I generally found his brochure in the doors of the houses where no one was home.

What are people in the upper part of Middle Springs 2 happy about?  The most frequently mentioned items were (you guessed it!) the look of the new Banff Avenue, the recycling/organics programs, the proposed wayfinding program, and the new lighted crosswalk at Fox Street.  Hoping that the pedestrian bridge project would go ahead was mentioned by two households.

"Likes" mentioned by individual households included:

  • the new busses
  • the town making an effort to be progressive
  • trying something new like Banff Live

Two households mentioned that they like the Bill Peyto signs, and hope they stay in place.  Two households mentioned concerns about the visibility/safety of sidewalks, especially those used by lots of children, plus the one between Gourlay's and the liquor store, plus the one between Bumpers and the Inns of Banff.  Two households mentioned a hope that the new Rec Centre will go ahead - one adding that they believe it will be important for regional tourism.

Concerns, issues and areas for improvement that were mentioned by individual households were:

  • the need for more day care spaces
  • the need to go the extra mile for aesthetics:  flowers, lights, etc.
  • disappointment with the decision about Cave Avenue density
  • a hope that Council is actively pursuing resort municipality status and alternate revenue
  • a request to work on trails in the lands adjacent to the Town
  • a suggestion that we paint parking spaces more carefully, so that people don't take up two spots
  • a suggestion that we designate the Bear Street parking lot for residents only
  • concerns about the design of Banff Avenue:  tree clumps near the intersections, mid-block crossings, the median in front of the Legion.
  • a request for differential mill rate for bare land condominiums, because they have to pay through their condo fees for snow ploughing and street lighting.
  • a suggestion for a kids' "spray park" in Central Park in the summer
  • a suggestion for a sign at Mountain Avenue and Middle Springs Drive, to inform visitors of the remaining distance to the Upper Hot Springs -- apparently the residents get asked this question a lot.
  • a request for a higher standard of snowclearing on both streets and sidewalks
  • a request for repairs to the fence between Mid Springs 2 and the wildlife corridor.
  • a suggestion that transit would be better with more and smaller busses.

Yesterday evening in Middle Springs 2 didn't reflect the general trends of comments that I've heard so far.  Instead, people had individual likes and concerns.  I heard the following at the doors:

Things that people like, mentioned by individual households:

  • the proposed pedestrian bridge:  "I hope it can be built"
  • paying attention to spending:  "don't let borrowing get us into a hole we can't dig out of"
  • the organics program:  "I use the bin all the time"
  • Banff Live:  "it was a good thing to try it"
  • Banff Life and FCSS:  "they do an amazing job to support our young workers" 

Questions, ideas and concerns mentioned by individual households:

  • the need for affordable housing
  • a concern about the dumping of large items by the bins, and a willingness to pay more to have more frequent pickups of this junk
  • a concern about the low turnout at Banff Live vs the expense
  • a wish to have a pedestrian bridge instead of the wayfinding program
  • a request to re-evaluate the planned location of the pedestrian bridge and place it close to the existing bridge
  • a request to make the current traffic bridge 2 lanes in each direction, with narrower sidewalks
  • a request to re-jig traffic light timing on Banff Avenue to move traffic more smoothly
  • a suggestion for a transit route to The Banff Centre
  • a wish to have everyone pick up their dog droppings, and to have this bylaw enforced
  • a request to limit chain stores and prevent loss of unique community character downtown
  • a concern about whethr we are meeting the needs of new Canadians, and whether we are helping them integrate into our community, access our services and become locals.
  • a concern about noise, safety relative to partying downtown, and a request to try to get rid of our reputation as a party town

It was a blustery evening in Middle Springs 2, but the views across to Cascade and the Fairholme Range were gorgeous, as always.

What do people like?  The look of the new Banff Avenue, the recycling/organics program, the new busses and what people have seen so far of the wayfinding program -- all these items were mentioned positively by more than one household.   

What are their concerns?  Banff Live was the most-mentioned item, and there were several other ideas for improvement mentioned by individual households:

  • a concern about the cost of and market for an elaborate sports complex
  • a suggestion that Parks Canada should "lose" the totem pole from Central Park
  • a request for more long-term care spaces for local seniors, so that they can stay in Banff
  • a concern about the difficulty of attracting and retaining quality staff
  • a concern about the level of taxes paid by small businesses, and the way those taxes have increased over the past 5 years
  • a request for a fence around the Middle Springs 2 recycling bins, so that items left beside them will not blow around.
  • a concern about the marking and advance notice for the double-lane lefthand turn at the south end of the bridge.
  • a concern about the safety of and the marking of the mid-block crosswalks on Banff Ave

Sulphur Court is such a great community!  When people come home from work, they don't just drive into their garages and close the door.  They get out of their cars and join the running conversations that are taking place out in the cul-de-sac, while kids and dogs play around them ... it's super!

Here's what I heard at the doors last night:

Top of mind among the good things happening -- once again, it's the completed Banff Avenue project.  People like the way it looks, and they're happy that it's done.

Individual households also mentioned being happy about:

  • the dragon boat festival:  "our family stayed all day"
  • the progressiveness of the town:  "it's great to try new things"
  • hearing the Mayor on Mountain FM today, describing what went on at Council:  "I hope it's part of a continuing series"
  • the idea of a new pedestrian bridge between Rec Grounds and Central Park:  "I hope it goes ahead"
  • the wayfinding plans:  "they look great, hope it happens soon"
  • customer service at Town Hall:  "always friendly, polite and professional"

There were no over-riding concerns among this group, but individual households mentioned:

  • a concern that they pay for their snow-clearing through condo fees, while other neighbourhoods get theirs from the Town
  • a need for handicapped parking stalls on Banff Avenue
  • a need to make the "stop lines" more prominent on the Banff Avenue intersections, to help the busses make the corners
  • a concern about sight lines near downtown intersections, due to clumps of trees
  • a request for more parking downtown
  • a request for fiscal responsibility and reining in spending
  • a request to keep the Bill Peyto signs.
  • a concern about traffic congestion on the bridge
  • a request to actively control bike-riding on sidewalks, especially on the bridge

I finished off Middle Springs 1 by doing the "inner circle" yesterday afternoon.  Met a *large* bull elk by surprise as I left the Smythes' place -- fortunately, he had other things on his mind and paid no attention to me as I back-pedalled rapidly.

The trend continues -- almost everyone I talked to mentioned the new look of Banff Avenue as their top-of-mind positive thing, followed by recycling/organics programs.  There was one very enthusiastic response about the new LED-lighted crosswalk at Banff and Fox.  "Put them everywhere!" was what I heard.

Suggestions for improvement, ideas, concerns and questions from individual householders were:

  • the various recreation fields need "a little loving" (turf management) to make them pleasant for children
  • a concern about the Banff/Buffalo intersection, specifically the impact of the trees on sight lines and safety
  • a concern about the narrow corners on Banff Avenue and how this affects busses when turning
  • a concern about how the changes in parking availability on Banff Avenue affect deliveries
  • a request to stop building housing south of the bridge, due to traffic congestion concerns on the bridge
  • a concern about Banff Live
  • a request to talk with Parks Canada about the look of and programming in the Banff Avenue park in the 200 block

Hello everyone:

Welcome to autumn.  It would be hard to imagine a stronger signal that fall is here than the weather transition we had overnight!


These emails represent just my point of view; they do not represent the point of view of Town Council or of the Town of Banff.  I hope you will comment on or question anything I say that is unclear or that you disagree with.  I hope you'll also check in with other members of council for their points of view.

You can get off this list at any time by just sending an email to lataylor@telusplanet.net and telling me that you'd like to unsubscribe.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone you wish to.  If they'd like to sign up for the list, they can just send me an email and I'll add them on.


As you know, I've started door-knocking through town.  When I mused in my last email that people might have more to say to me now that I'm a councillor, I didn't know how right I was!  It's taking about three times as long to do the doors as it took last year during the campaign -- people are ready to talk, and I'm having some great conversations.  I've finished Valleyview and expect to finish Middle Springs 1/2g today.  At this rate, I should be done around Christmas!

I start off by explaining why I'm door-knocking (no, I'm not canvassing for a federal candidate!) and then I ask two questions, which I have tried to keep as neutral as possible:

  • please tell me one thing that the Town is doing that you like, and
  • please tell me one thing you think we could improve.

To get a sense of the responses, please go to www.lataylor.com/blog and scroll down through the entries -- I'm writing a brief entry after each door-knocking session, talking about what some of the frequent responses were, and also listing the comments that came from only one household.


Here are some highlights from the Council package for tomorrow.  To see the whole thing -- all 232 pages of it -- please click on http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1677 and give it a good long time to load.

Requests for financial support

The Whyte Museum is asking for $6800 cash, plus $650 in in-kind support, to assist with the events that they would like to hold in conjunction with the centennial of the Warden Service in 2009.  While I believe that this is an important anniversary, and that Banff is the right place to celebrate it, I need to have a clearer understanding of the other sources of funding before I'm comfortable with this request.

The YWCA is asking for the town to make a grant application on their behalf for $238,000 to assist in the completion of the residence expansion.  They're not asking the town for the money - just to represent them in the application process.


I'm sure you're as anxious as I am to see the town's wayfinding signage replaced and augmented.  Among other things, I think that improved signage will make it easier for people to find their destinations and find parking spots, and thus help with traffic congestion and perhaps diminish the demand for more parking.  It will also be great to have more signage that is designed for the walkers, thus encouraging people to explore the town on foot.

You can see the report on the project at http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1677  -- be patient, it's a big package and will take minutes to load.  Scroll down to page 43 for the report. 

I am generally in support of this project and like the look overall, but I still have some concerns about aspects of the designs, including the size/scale of the downtown pedestrian signage, and the too-tempting cast-metal animals on top of some signs (I don't think that those involved in the design understand the number of talented climbers that we have in our community!)  I'll be commenting on those tomorrow in Council.  There is also some suggestion that the project "might" take $206,000 more dollars in 2009 than we have budgeted for it.  I won't be supporting that -- those involved in this design have known the budget all along, and I was assured as recently as the last meeting that the design was being done with the budget firmly in mind.

Secondary Suite Policy

By clicking on http://www.banff.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1677 and scrolling to page 58, you can see the report on the secondary suite policy.

The general idea is to try to address some of the need for affordable housing by expanding the areas of town and the types of houses in which secondary suites can be considered.  Each application would come to the Municipal Planning Commission for approval, and would be considered based on how it would affect the neighbourhood.  Neighbours would be notified and would have a chance to comment. 

What's coming to council tomorrow is just the policy - it's my understanding that land use bylaw amendments would have to be written and go through the normal public process before these ideas could be put into practice.

Please take a look at the proposal and let me know what you think!

Regional Transit

A regional transit authority will be one step closer tomorrow if Council agrees to join with several other organizations (including the Town of Canmore) in a memorandum of understanding to create a regional transportation commission.  You can see the reports, starting on page 65 of the package.  I know that all these administrative steps sound very bureaucratic, but there really is an important light at the end of the paperwork tunnel.  It would be wonderful to have a coordinated public transportation system between communities and to the major destinations in the park!

Recycling costs passed on to newspapers?

In a report that you can see on page 191 of the council package (aren't you glad that we get our packages electronically, instead of printing them out?), Council is being asked whether the town should pursue Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) with the two newspapers.  Briefly, the case is being made that newspapers and their inserts make up about 138,000 kgs of Banff's recycling and an unknown percentage of our waste to landfill, and that we only recover 15 cents for every dollar spent handling this waste.  The question is whether we should charge the newspapers a fee because of the waste they create.

At first glance, this appears like a simple question.  Polluter pays, right?  But newspapers are so important to community information and thus to community democracy.  You might argue that if they didn't exist, we'd have to print them ourselves.  Add to the mix the difficulty that the Crag appears to be in, and I find myself thinking that newspapers are not the place to start with EPR in our community.  But I'd sure love it if they would volunteer to help with this problem in some way ...

All the best 'til next time -- Leslie

What a gorgeous last day of summer it was -- kids were playing, neighbours were chatting on their porches. 

What did I hear at the doors today?  In terms of what people like, the favourite is still the look of the new Banff Avenue - with a couple of side comments about being glad that the construction is over!  Recycling and organics got several mentions as well, along with a hope that Middle Springs will get its own organics and plastics bins, and one wistful request for curbside recycling pickup.

Top of the list for concerns continued to be Banff Live, with community standards coming in second (people were expressing concerns about properties that are not maintained to the standard of the neighbourhood).  Bridge traffic was mentioned from a few angles:  general concern about bridge congestion, concern that the turn arrows at Banff and Buffalo are not on long enough, concern that the two-lane left turn at the admin building end is not well line-painted, and not well understood by drivers.

Two households also expressed concern about the town's role in tourism marketing.  "Run the town, don't sell the town, leave that to others" was one quote.

Individual households mentioned liking the following:

  • FCSS: "give it 10 votes!".
  • The town website:  "easy to use, use it a lot".
  • The new busses:  "they're so visible".

Individual households mentioned the following concerns, issues, questions:

  • a request to curb the spending on consultants
  • a hope that the youth program for 13-16 year olds will be operational soon
  • a concern about the quality of snow ploughing
  • a question about when the final lift of asphalt will be done in Middle Springs 2g
  • a request for more visitor parking in 2g, near the emergency vehicle pad
  • a concern about Banff avenue design, specifically the narrowness for bikes and the trees on the corners
  • a hope that the pedestrian bridge will go ahead

Well, I was certainly bang-on when I guessed that it would take longer to go door-to-door as a councillor than as a candidate.  At this rate, it will take me 'til Christmas to finish this round of door-knocking!  But I don't mind a bit -- I am having some great conversations, and I'm more and more convinced that this kind of mid-term one-to-one contact is really worthwhile.

What were last night's discussions about?  Several households are happy about the look of the new Banff Avenue:  it's "appealing", "pretty", "makes the pedestrians look happier and more relaxed".

And individual households liked:

  • Banff Live:  "my kids enjoyed it"
  • the sewage treatment plant:  "toured it with the school kids and it was amazing"
  • the recycling program:  "hope we get an organics bin here in Middle Springs"
  • the volunteer centre: "I've used it and it was great"
  • the move of Abbeyfield House into the Bow Valley Housing portfolio:  "This will be so good for the convenience of the users"
  • the library:  "love it!"
  • the bike race:  "It was great to see.  Add mountain biking into the event somehow"
  • Bear Street handicapped parking:  "really helpful"
  • The secondary suite policy:  "hope it will happen, it would really help employers and employees"
  • The new busses:  "gorgeous"
  • The TIF funding for Banff Lake Louise Tourism:  "happy to see this in place"

How did people respond when asked what the town could improve?  Banff Live topped the list, and there were still a few references to bridge traffic, although most people noted the improvement now that the intersection of Banff and Buffalo is open once again.  A couple of people mentioned design concerns with the new Banff Avenue:  trees on corners, narrow intersections, the loss of the central line of banners, a suggestion to remove the remaining lamp post at the bridge end and "tidy up" the median there.

Individual households mentioned the following concerns, ideas, and suggestions:

  • A suggestion to eliminate development permit fees for environmental retrofits such as adding solar hot water -- or to redirect those fees to an environmental fund.
  • a request to not engage in special events designed to bring large numbers of visitors, and to help visitors slow down and enjoy the park.
  • a request to communicate more with the families of Banff
  • a suggestion for Banff-Canmore transit, 2 - 3 times per day in each direction
  • A request for a parkade
  • a request to improve the flower plantings in the downtown
  • a concern about the amount of parking along Bow Avenue and its impact on the serenity of the riverside trail
  • a question about when the filter cloths will be removed from the storm drains on Jasper Way
  • a request to add a transit route to the Banff Centre
  • a request for increased fiscal responsibility
  • a concern about violent or offensive material in store window displays downtown
  • a request to concentrate less on "what we're not", and concentrate more on protecting and sharing what truly makes this area spectacular.
  • a concern about the safety of the crosswalk at Spray and Mountain:  cars not expecting pedestrians, children not expecting traffic.

It was a beautiful evening, and lots of folks were in the mood for conversation, so I covered only a small section of Middle Spring 1 tonight.  Wow - there are some real green thumbs up there!  The flowers were amazing.

Banff Avenue's new look and the town's recycling initiatives, especially organics, were items that got the most thumbs up from this first group of Middle Springs residents.  Looking out at the gorgeous evening, one man said that he's "just feeling pretty fortunate, overall", and I had to agree with him.

On the improvement side, bridge traffic was definitely top of mind for people tonight, pushing Banff Live into second place.  One couple told me that they had to walk to the Sports Hall of Fame dinner in their party clothes, because there was just no way to get their car onto Mountain Avenue on Saturday night at six pm.  I knew what they meant, because it took me more than 20 minutes to get from Valleyview to the CIBC that same evening.  One family expressed concern about emergency vehicle access to the south side of the river under those circumstances.

Other ideas and suggestions:

  • keep an eye on spending, watch the big ticket items, remember the taxpayers
  • watch out for and regulate vacation rentals
  • support for  pedestrian bridge with a good direct connector trail to Middle Springs
  • a request for improvement in snow clearing, and consideration of alternate-side parking to facilitate this