Hello, everyone:

I hope you're enjoying a pleasant weekend!  Just in case you have time to catch up on council news, here's what's going on ...


This group of Banff Housing Corp homeowners, members of the general public, and council representatives has been working hard since before Christmas to review and make recommendations on the operational changes proposed for the BHC.  At first, they met bi-weekly, then weekly, for three hours at a time.  The volunteers on this working group have put in a tremendous number of hours and a huge effort!  That's why I expect they'll be very happy folks on Tuesday night, June 29, when the group holds its last meeting.

Group recommendations will then be sent to the shareholders of the Council, who will then make them available to the public for review and comment before voting on them.  The vote will likely take place in September.

All the meetings of the BHC Working Group have been open to the public, and the one on Tuesday night (7 pm in Council Chambers) is no exception.  So do come and join us if you'd like to!  Or, if you know someone who has volunteered on this group, take the opportunity to thank them this week and congratulate them on the completion of this project.


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


Here are some of the highlights:

Mayor and Town Manager at Safeway July 6

As part of council's community engagement initiative, Mayor Stutz and town manager Robert Earl are taking a town tent and heading out to various busy locations in town to answer your questions and get your comments.  The next "town kiosk" will be on July 6 at Safeway.  I hope you will take this opportunity to chat with the mayor and town manager.

Wayfinding installation delayed again

As you can see on page 6 of the package, the installation of new signs was delayed by the bad weather in June.  Fair enough, but the update also says that we now plan to do no further work until September, even though all previous updates contemplated working through the summer.  I'll be asking why.

Water Services bylaw update

Starting on page 15 of the package, you can read the report and see the proposed new bylaw. 

The previous statement about not running water on any street or sidewalk has been replaced by a prohibition on environmentally inappropriate use of water, which you can see on pages 27 and 36 of the package.  This is great, because it specifically targets waste without affecting normal and appropriate use.

"Cross connections" are an important focus of this bylaw.  Without a functional backflow prevention device in place, it is possible for contaminated water from irrigation systems, boilers, etc. to be drawn into the main water system.  We all have a responsibility to ensure that this doesn't happen, and the bylaw -- especially on pages 24 and 25 -- talks about how such contamination can (and must) be prevented.

Inspections and education for larger buildings will be part of the annual fire inspection routine.  For smaller buildings, such as your home, next time you have the plumbers in for a repair or maintenance, you might consider also asking them to take a look at your backflow prevention device.

New budget format

To confirm with proper accounting practice as laid out by the Public Sector Accounting Board, the town is switching over financial formats.  On Monday, council will be asked to approve the 2010 budget (already approved in the old format) in the new format.  I am looking forward to getting an educational presentation on the new format from staff, because it's very different from what we're used to.  You can see the report starting on page 63 of our package.

A fourth Development Officer

Council is being asked to give a fourth member of the planning department the designation of "Development Officer" -- you can see the request starting on page 68 of the agenda package.  A Development Officer is the approving authority for projects that are permitted uses and meet various requirements.  For some time, the town had only one Development Officer, then two.  Very recently, a third was appointed.  I am baffled about why we now need four, given that our present year is the sixth busiest of the last seven in terms of numbers of development permits to date, and will be asking for some convincing evidence of need.


As always, this post represents my personal point of view, and does not purport to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your questions or comments!

Hello everyone:

A gorgeous weekend at last! I do hope you're getting a chance to enjoy it.  I have been -- that is, when I'm not busy reading my council package.


By now, you've received your residential tax bill, and probably seen a substantial increase.  As I mentioned in my May 8 update, because of the current economic climate, commercial assessments have dropped substantially.  Residential assessments have dropped, too, but not as much.  This, along with the commercial/residential tax split of 4.5:1 (voted by council on May 10) means that residents end up with more of the tax burden on them this year.  So, even though the overall tax increase in town is 2.55% (after a 0% overall for 2009), residents have seen an average increase of 7.1%.  If we had gone with a 4:1 tax split, as we had last year, the residential increase would have been 12.57%.  I proposed a 5:1 split to council, which would have led to both commercial and residential having a 2.55% increase, but council felt that that split went too far in attempting to mask the true effects of assessment changes.

I've heard from a couple of people about their residential increases, and I'm willing to go through the decision-making process in detail with anyone who asks.  I know that the taxation process, with budgets, assessments, mill rates and tax splits, can be a bit confusing.  And no one likes to see a tax increase, at any time.


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


Highlights include:

Proposed changes to the Taxi Bylaw

The questions of "when is a sedan a taxi?", "how many livery plates should there be", and "how should those plates be allocated if they come up for re-assignment?" are back before council.  You can see the full series of reports starting on page 15 of the package, and a letter from an affected party starting on page 8.  We will be hearing two delegations from affected parties at council, and there may be items in those presentations that cast more light on the subject.  At present, though, I am tending to think that a car that behaves like a taxi (waiting at taxi stands, soliciting for walk-by business) is a taxi, and should be regulated as one.  

I would be very interested to hear from any of you who have comments on the existing level of taxi service in town.   

First quarter financial statements

Yes, I know, your eyes are glazing over again.  But, if you're keen (as I am), you can take a look at this report starting on page 56 of the package, to see notes on the factors that are affecting the town's performance against budget.  Some items have moved up, some down, but overall the forecast for year-end is very close to budget at this time.

Environmental incentive program

If you've thought about taking advantage of the town's rebate program for energy-efficient and water-efficient improvements to your home or business, you'll be interested to see the changes to the program that are being proposed starting on page 81 of the package.  Proposals for adding to the rebate list include: energy-efficient doors and windows, Energy Star refrigerators, water heater insulator blankets, and solar water heating installations.

Finance committee startup meeting

This separate package:  http://www.banff.ca/Assets/PDFs/Town+Hall+PDF/Council+Agendas+PDF/2010+Agendas+PDF/finance-agenda-100614.pdf

shows you the agenda for the first meeting of council's new finance committee.  At this meeting, council will be deciding on what tasks the committee should focus on.  A glance at the package will show you the list of tasks proposed.  This new committee will have all councillors and the mayor as members, and will give council an opportunity to have more meeting time dedicated to financial planning, policy-setting and review.  I'm pleased to see this proposal finally coming to fruition.


As has been the custom, in July and August, council will have one meeting per month rather than two.  These meetings are on July 19 and August 16.


Watch the paper for an announcement of the open house to launch Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw review.  I will send out an email as soon as I know the date.  I know that it's hard to go to a meeting when the weather's good, but this phase, dealing with commercial development, will be of interest and importance to all Banffites.


As I've mentioned a few times before, the fall election will soon be upon us. 

As you saw in the paper this week, Mayor Stutz has announced that he will not be running again.  We all owe John a debt of gratitude for his hard work over the past two terms (and previously on council).  I hope you will take the opportunity to say "thanks" if you run into him over the next few weeks. 

Councillors Gibson and Macdonald have already said that they are not running again, and Councillor Sorensen has informally announced that she intends to run for mayor (expect a formal announcement closer to the election).  That means that at least three of the six available council seats will have no incumbents, making for a very wide-open race.  I do hope that all of you are considering whether this is the right time for you to stand for election and serve your community, or whether you can encourage and support someone else you know who would be a good candidate.

At present, it's my intention to run for re-election as a councillor, assuming that life doesn't throw any surprises my way between now and the fall.