I'm very sorry to be so late with this council update!  Gord and I took a little vacation over the past ten days, and I'm scrambling to catch up!


A couple of people have mentioned to me that the planters on Banff Avenue's median -- although they're absolutely gorgeous -- are a bit of a visibility problem when placed near the mid-block crosswalks.  I've noticed this, too, and brought it up at the last council meeting.  I'm told that the planters will soon been taken out for the winter, and that their locations will be moved for next year.


I'm sorry to report that the remaining evening council meeting of the year has been moved back to the 2 pm time slot.  Because audience numbers did not show up for the evening meetings, the majority of council felt that this initiative was not worth continuing.


Today's agenda package is so bulky that it's provided in a series of links.  You can access all of the sections from this page:  http://www.banff.ca/town-hall/banff-town-council/council-meetings/dates-agendas/council-meeting-2009-09-28.htm

First reading of some Land Use Bylaw amendments

As you know, the town planners have been working hard on the first phase of the Land Use Bylaw amendments, and they are bringing these to Council for first reading today.  Voting for first reading doesn't suggest that Council is approving these amendments.  It just gets them onto the council agenda, so that a public hearing can be scheduled.

You can see all the reports and proposed amendments by going to the page shown above, then looking at the individual links.

The big proposed change is a large increase in residential density - the size of building that owners can build on their lot or lots.  How high, how wide, how long the building can be, and how much floor space can be built into it -- these are all density questions.

I think that residential density is a good thing in many ways.  Banff is much, much more dense than Canmore, for example, and that gives us a compact footprint, easy access to services, and walkability.  But in looking at increased density, I want us also to consider what the tradeoffs are.  What are the services provided to the community by the open space on people's lots?  Examples include greenhouse gas absorption (by trees and lawns), stormwater absorption (instead of running off into gutters and the river), view lines to our mountain views, shade and insulation, habitat for birds and small mammals.  What can we do to protect those services while also gaining more residential units?  This will be a conversation I'd like to have as the bylaw moves forward.

As well, the bylaw proposes that we set requirements for the energy and water efficiency of buildings:  better walls, windows, and plumbing fixtures.  I think we might want to include better stormwater retention as part of that standard, and also offer people incentives for installation of solar and wind energy solutions.

I hope you will take a look at the reports, and that you'll get involved when the proposed changes come for second reading.

Community Greenhouse Initiative

An exciting proposal is coming to council for approval in principle, and you can see the report at page 33 of the main agenda package document.  FCSS is proposing a community greenhouse, with plots that can be used by citizens to grow produce for their own use.  This idea is in the very early stages, but you can see pictures of what this might look like, and a list of possible locations.  According to the report, a similar program in Whistler now has 72 plots being used by Whistlerites.  Wouldn't it be great if this greenhouse could be located near one of our schools, so that students could have a plot and learn more about the joys and challenges of food production?

BHC working group

Nine community-minded volunteers have put their names forward as possible public members of the Banff Housing Corporation working group, and Council will have the difficult task of choosing five of them today.  All the applications look great, and I take my hat off to these folks who are willing to take on this complex discussion.

Hello everyone:

I hope that you got a chance to see the two amazing community events yesterday! 

Huge kudos to the over 150 men who volunteered to walk around Central Park in high heels to raise money for YWCA programs to help women.  This was not just a super fundraiser, it was a fabulous community get-together -- well done, YW.  And the warden centennial ride down Banff Avenue ... well, I don't think I was the only one in the appreciative crowd with a major lump in my throat.  By the way, huge kudos to Bob Haney for still fitting into his 1972 uniform!

I happened to chat with two tourists who had chanced upon both events.  They felt they had had a chance to see the real heart of Banff, and they sure liked what they were seeing.


Just a reminder that Monday's council meeting is at 7 p.m.  If you have a question about an item on the agenda, or if you want to see what a council meeting is like (maybe you're thinking of running next year), here's an opportunity that doesn't require you to be away from work during the day.  Council is trying this evening meeting idea three times this year, to see if it is something the community would like us to continue.


You can see the council package by clicking on this link:


Water main and valve replacement

Council is being asked to create a new capital project to cover water main and valve replacement and repairs (report is on page 25 of the council package).  Repairs would take place at Squirrel and Lynx, Whiskey Creek, 300 block of Squirrel, 100 block of Cave and Marmot Street.  Valves would be replaced on Railway Street, Banff Ave 400 block, and Caribou Street (that work is already underway).  The idea is to take care of leaks and potential leaks, and cut down on the number of future emergency repairs.  The good news is that this can be funded from the money saved by not building a sixth well -- something we were able to postpone indefinitely because of people's and businesses' successful water conservation efforts. 

Two replacement garbage trucks

Council is being asked to move the money forward from a planned 2010 purchase to cover one of these trucks -- the other is already budgeted.  This seems to make sense, as $15,500 was spent on repairs in this year.  You can see the report on pge 27 of the package.

Banff Housing Corporation -- Peyto Place purchase

Council is being asked to confirm that we will guarantee a loan for the BHC while they purchase and resell 10 units in Peyto Place.  Since our last vote, I have been asked why I support a purchase that will not actually add new housing units.  While it's true that this purchase doesn't increase the number of housing units, it does increase the number of units available at bleow-market prices.  I agree that the ideal is to have units that are both new and below market, but our opportunities to do that are becoming fewer.  You can read the report on page 29 of the package.