Hello everyone!


Tuesday night at 7 pm, I'll be helping host this spelling and trivia extravaganza.  Last I heard, there was still room for two six-person teams.  If you're keen to join in, call Bob Pearson at the Whyte Museum to enter.  It's free, it's fun, and it's fiendishly challenging!


I wouldn't blame you if you found the newspaper account a little baffling.  Basically, we explored two ideas for potentially cutting the cost of the Recreation Centre project.

Stavros Karlos focused in on the $2 million addition -- the extra office and upgraded locker space that was added to the project by Council at the request of the Banff Hockey Academy (see my May 22 2009 blog entry at www.lataylor.com/blog ).  Work is too far along to cancel this addition, but Stav made a motion to ask administration how much money could be saved for now if we just built the outer shell of the addition, and waited until later to finish the interior.  The motion to ask for this information was defeated.  I voted for it, because I thought it would be a good idea to at least find out whether we could save some money this way.

I made a motion to find out how much money we could save by LEED-shadowing, rather than going for LEED certification (see my Jan 10 2010 blog entry).  Council supported this motion, and the information came back to the next meeting.  We found out that we could save $144,ooo by not getting the certification, but we needed to pursue certification in order to apply for a program that could bring us around $200,000 in grant money.  But here's the good news -- just because we were considering backing away from LEED, some of our contractors offered to discount the fees they were charging us for the LEED certification work.  Just by asking the question, we ended up saving around $70,000 on the certification.  This is great support from the people involved in the project.  We'll get our LEED and it won't cost as much as I feared -- and I hope we'll get that grant money, too.


Council has discussed both the draft operating budget and the draft capital budget. 

At present, the operating budget calls for approximately a 3.1% tax increase.  The budget is back with administration as they look at final figures for Alberta CPI and similar indicators.  Council will see the operating budget for further consideration in February.

The capital budget has been severely affected by the decrease in commitments from the provincial government, and several projects have been delayed to future years as a result.  The budget is back with administration and will come back to council in February.


You can see the main council agenda package at this link:


 Highlights include:

Valleyview recycling bin

The Valleyview condo association is will be expressing their concerns about the Town's approach to recycling bin installation in their community.  You can read their letter starting on page 11 of the package.

Third reading of Land Use Bylaw Phase 1

Work is underway on Phase 2, and you will have lots more opportunities for input.  The whole bylaw remains open for changes until we do the final round of reviews and send it off for the approval of the Minister -- sometime in 2011.

Adding the sidewalk cafe policy to the Streets Bylaw

Council discussed the results of the pilot program at the last meeting, and now planning is bringing the bylaw to Council.  You can see the report and information starting on page 33 of the agenda package.

Affordable Housing Grant

 The town is eligible for up to $231,000 from the provincial government to support affordable housing initiatives.  The proposed plan assigns this money to help with the future Cave Avenue housing development.  You can see the report starting on page 104 of the package (link above).

Other items

Money for blue historic plaques, more work on the Bow Valley Transportation Authority, and an application for Green Municipal Fund money for the rec centre project.


As always, the opinions expressed in this post are mine alone, and do not purport to be those of the Town of Banff or Banff Town Council.  I welcome your comments!

Hello everyone, and a belated Happy New Year to those of you that I haven`t already seen on the trails or in Nesters! 

Tomorrow is a very busy day for council members ...


Tomorrow morning at 9 a.m., we start work on the capital budget for 2010.  This is an open, public meeting -- you are welcome to attend.  You can see the agenda package for this meeting at this link:


You probably know this, but for those who might be new, I`ll just mention that operating budget (the budget we worked on in November and December) covers the day-to-day workings of the organization (items such as salary, heating the buildings, running the transit system, etc).  Capital budget is about the projects that create or renew long-term assets for the town (items such as the rec centre project, major road or utility projects, etc.)

We have a huge challenge in the capital budget this year.  That`s because our budget was built with the understanding that the province would be supplying around $4.7 million to the town`s capital budget each and every year until 2016, through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.  This was not just a careless assumption -- it was based on many assurances from the province that this money was a commitment.  However, with the econonmic downturn, this commitment has, unfortunately, been one of the areas where the provice has made changes.  At present, the word is that we can expect $2.6 million per year until 2019, leaving us with a $14.7 million shortfall in the first seven years.

I voted for borrowing for the main part of the rec centre project with the understanding that we would be paying back the debt each year using the provincial MSI money.  Now the money has been reduced, but we are far enough into the project that cancellation is not an option, and the debt, of course, will remain.  This is the very situation I wanted to avoid -- the situation where the ability of future councils to do necessary work was limited by the borrowing of past councils.   It is painful to know that I helped to create this situation through my vote.

Administration has worked very hard to present a capital budget that still works within these constraints, but they are cautioning us about how they have had to stretch the expected lifespan of various assets to do it.  As the council process continues, we will be looking for any additional ways to cover our debts, while still doing the work necessary to keep the town`s assets in good shape.  I will be asking whether there are any cuts still available on the rec centre project -- whether we could, for example, re-visit council`s decision to add an extra area of changerooms and offices, or whether we could cut the expenses connected with the LEED certification process.  While it`s important to do the work to make buildings environmentally responsible, I`m not convinced that it`s necessary to pay out tens of thousands to have paper certification exercise completed, and think that we may need to re-visit the council policy that says we must do this.  I`d like to hear your thoughts on this -- if we do the work, do we still need to pay for the certification.


You can see the entire agenda package for Monday`s meeting by clicking on this link:


You are welcome to attend this public meeting, which starts at 2 pm.  Here are a few highlights:

Snow and Ice Management Update

Starting on page 18 of the package, you`ll find an interesting report on the various alternatives that the Town has tested for de-icing.  Using a mix of traction granules and CaMgAcetate in key areas helps protect water quality, diminish corrosive effects on metal and concrete, and is better for plants.

Sidewalk seating and cafe policy

The pilot project last summer was a success, and council is being asked to approve the policy going forward, with a few minor changes.  You can see the report starting on page 30 of the agenda package.

Community greenhouse project

I`m often asked how this is going -- the answer is that lots has been happening.  A concept for the design has been chosen, some of the money has been raised (and more grant applications are out there), and a site on the Rec grounds is proposed.  You can read the whole report (and see the pictures!) starting on page 61 of the council package.


I will round off my day tomorrow with a third meeting -- the housing working group, starting at 7 pm.  This is an open public meeting, and you`re welcome to attend!  This committee is attempting to build consensus recommendations, and the discussion is always lively.  Key items on the agenda will include working on recommendations about whether the BHC should increase their holdings of apartment style units, whether they should invest money in tracking rental rates and rental construction, and whether they should offset some operating costs by creating a portfolio of rental properties themselves.