Hello everyone:

I hope you have all been enjoying our multi-season environment this past week, and that you had a chance to stop by the fundraiser for the Community Greenhouse.  Judging by the emails I got back after my last update, there's a lot of support for this project.  It was great to get the news from Larry Bohn at the last council meeting that the Bow Valley Creidt Union is donating $5,000 to the cause.


You can see the entire package for Monday's council meeting at this link:


Here are a few highlights from the agenda:

Council priority update

This is a feature of every council agenda, but I just thought I should mention it in case you haven't noticed it before.  In the package, starting on page 2, you'll see information on the status of several items that council wanted to concentrate on in 2010.  It's worth reading this update document to see what's happening with these various projects.  For example, I know that a lot of you are very interested in the progress of the Rec Centre, and this update document will keep you informed.

Bottled water at municipal facilities

Josie Howitt spoke at the last council meeting about her interest in having Banff meet the requirements of a Blue Community in how we manage our water resources.  As a result of her presentation, council will be considering tomorrow whether we should ban the sale of bottled water at municipal facilities.  I think most of us are aware of the excellent quality of Banff tap water, and of the environmental downsides of bottled water:  additional plastic bottles for recycling/landfill, the very high greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting something as heavy as water, etc.  At the same time, I know that many people -- especially our visitors from places where municipal water is not as good as it is here -- believe that water in a bottle is purer or healthier than what comes out of a tap.  Concern has also been expressed that if we don't sell bottled water at the Rec Centre, users will buy pop instead, which is not a desirable health outcome.

I intend to support this ban at municipal facilities, but to ask that it is accompanied by ensuring that re-usable water bottles are available for those who don't have them.  That's because I believe that a lot of people buy bottled water simply because it's portable (where a water fountain obviously is not) and we need to ensure that people can meet that need.  I will also be asking that we provide information at municipal facilities about the quality of our tap water, to help reassure those who believe that bottled water is more pure.  And I think we will need to review this decision in a year, to see whether the predicted negative effects -- more pop drinking, for example -- have actually taken place.

Assessment Review Board

After you receive your assessment notice (the information on how the Town's assessor sees the value of your property for tax purposes), there is an annual opportunity to appeal this assessment if you believe it to be incorrect.  An assessment review board hears these appeals.  On Monday, Council will be asked to appoint members to the two different assessment review boards that are now required -- the province has changed the rules under which these boards operate, making it much more expensive and onerous for municipalities to operate this necessary function. 


Several items are on the BHC plate right now:

BHC Working Group

The group of BHC homeowners, general public members and council reps is meeting weekly now, working through the recommendations and topics referred to it by Council.  We're hoping to have a package of recommendations ready to go to council (as the shareholders of the BHC) by the end of June.  The group works by consensus, so discussions are detailed and require people to really listen to opposing points of view.  This group meets Mondays in council chambers, 7 - 10 pm, and all meetings are open to the public.

Cave Avenue project

It appears that the Cave Avenue project will not be going ahead within the foreseeable future, because Parks Canada and the BHC have been unable to agree on a transfer price for the land.  Council (acting as the shareholders of the BHC) will be asked on Monday to approve transferring grant money originally intended for Cave Avenue to the Peyto Place acquisition.

Peyto Place

The BHC recently conducted an online survey about the Peyto Place units and the model for resale.  Existing tenants will be given first right to buy their units, before they are offered to the rest of the potential buyers.  You can see the results of the survey here:



Besides attending the regular council meeting, the BHC shareholders meeting, and the evening meeting of the BHC working group, I will also be joining the rest of council for a workshop on Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw review.  Planning staff will be explaining to us the approach they're taking with this work, and the proposals for changing the bylaw that they would like to consider.  I'll keep you updated on opportunities to have input into this phase.


As always, this post represents my personal point of view only, and does not purport to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or of Banff Council.

Hello everyone:

Yes, I'm back!  Apologies to a couple of you who emailed with questions during my absence -- I did my best, but my email access was very intermittent.  For those of you familiar with my long-term relationship with the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I'm happy to report that I walked 513 kms this year, finishing up in Santiago de Compostela on Easter Sunday.  This makes a total of 1350 kms since I started in 2007.  The trip was challenging, rewarding, and all-round spectacular!

Because I was away for both council meetings in March, and was so generally unreachable, it is my intention to donate my March 19 and April 1 council paycheques back to the Town.  I'm thinking of donating them to the Community Greenhouse project, but you may feel that it would be more appropriate just to give them back to the town's general revenues -- I welcome your comments. 


You can see the entire package for Monday's meeting at this link:


Here are  a few highlights ...

Community greenhouse sponsorship

Larry Bohn will be making a verbal presentation about sponsorship for the Community Greenhouse from the Bow Valley Credit Union.  I'm looking forward to hearing about this!

Blue community

On page 11 of the package, you can read a presentation to council urging us to declare Banff a Blue Community.  This essentially means that we recognize water as a human right, keep the means of water treatment and distribution in public hands, and we don't sell bottled water at our municipal buildings or events.  I certainly agree with these aims, and believe that we are pretty much on track already.

Water bylaw update

Starting on page 15 of the package, you can read about the recent review and update of the water bylaw, and see the bylaw itself, with the areas for changes marked in yellow.  In general, the changes clarify who's responsible and accountable for what aspects of the water system, provide for protection from cross-contamination, add information about water conservation, and increase penalties for non-compliance.  I have a few questions about how we can make wording clearer, and places where I'd like to see some right of appeal from an administrative decision.  Council has already discussed this bylaw at the last meeting, so I look forward to getting up to speed with the questions they have already asked.

When is a taxi not a taxi?

 Apparently, a bit of a grey area has been developing between taxis and "charter in-town sedans".  You can see the report on this starting on page 48 of the package.  Essentially, if a sedan is not actually pre-booked, but rather waits at a designated spot and can be hired on the spot by a customer, does it then become a taxi, or can it still be considered part of a limo/sedan service?  This is the question being asked of council, and it appears that we may need to make some additions to the taxi bylaw so that there's a bit more clarity.  Taxi bylaws and licences are always a hot topic of discussion in communities across the country.

Bylaw review

I feel that councillors should be familiar with the full range of bylaws that are active in their community, so I asked administration to give us a list of the current ones, and also a list of how many have been reviewed within the past three years.  I wanted to be sure that we are on track to review every bylaw at least once every 5 years, and it appears that we are at least close to that.  It does still concern me, however, that a councillor can serve a full 3-year term without encountering all of our bylaws at the council table, and I'm going to suggest that a list and information on how to access the full texts be included in the council orientation package for new councillors after the fall election.


Just a reminder that the September nomination date will come up very fast.  If you're thinking that you might like to run, and would like any information or encouragement, please give me a shout.  Serving your community as a councillor is educational, engaging, occasionally satisfying, sometimes exhausting ... the list could go on and on.  But having a good pool of people to vote on is essential to the operation of a successful municipal democracy, so please, give it some thought, and also talk to others that you feel might be good candidates.


This post and all the others on this blog represent my point of view only, and do not purport to represent the position of the Town of Banff or Banff Town Council.