Hello everyone:

I hope you're all enjoying the holiday season, and finding time for relaxing with family and friends.  Council is meeting on Wednesday, December 29, and you can see the agenda package at this link:


Here are some highlights of what will be on the agenda:

Report from the Banff Ideas Bank

The October discussion (why do we love to hate politicians?!), the November discussion (what is one thing we need to get right in Banff in 2011?), and the December discussion (what makes you happy?) will be summarized for Council by Colin Funk.  There are lots of great ideas in these discussions -- you can see the report starting on page 2 of the agenda package.

Bow River Basin Watershed Management Plan, Phase 2 Terms of Reference

Banff is a long-term member of the Bow River Basin Council, a group that brings together decision-makers from all along the Bow and its tributaries to work together on ways to protect water quality and quantity.  As one of the stewards of the headwaters, we have a special responsibility to ensure that we are doing this right.  We've been active in this group, and -- along with our partners in the Bow Corridor Ecological Advisory Group -- we recently presented to them a complete report of the ways in which we are working to implement the BRBC objectives on water quality. 

The BRBC is asking for all members to approve a Terms of Reference for Phase 2 of the watershed management plan, which will concentrate on land use, headwaters and wetlands.  You can see the report starting on page 15 of the package.

Waste and Recycling Utility

As you know, Banff is moving toward a user-pay approach to waste and recycling in the commercial areas.  Up until now, waste and recycling have been paid for through taxes.  If this new utility is approved, over the next three years we will phase in user-pay fees and phase out the tax coverage of commercial waste and recycling.  Several questions were asked about the proposed approach and rate structure at the last meeting, and we will be discussing the responses to those on Wednesday.  Council is being asked to approve second and third readings of the bylaw to start the transition to the utility at the beginning of 2011.

You can see the reports on this item starting at page 46 of the agenda package.

2011 Municipal Fee Structure

Starting on page 69 of the package, you can see the full range of municipal fees being proposed for 2011 -- everything from cemetery interment fees to dog licence fees to builidng permit fees to the cost to rent a town parking stall.  As you'll see, many of the fees will remain at 2010 levels.  There is a proposed increase to the cost of transit for seniors and children (from $1 to $1.50), and I will be asking council to keep those fees at the 2010 level.  We want people to ride transit, and many tourism destinations provide transit free to customers.


After the regular council meeting is over, council will go right into a budget meeting.  It looks to me as if we are getting close to approving an operational and a capital budget for 2011.  You can see the agenda package at this link:


Several capital projects proposed for 2011 seem to me to be very supportable (for example, the rebuilding of the cracked tennis court at the Rec Grounds, and the planning for a safe ped/bike crossing of the CPR tracks near the compound).  I've asked administration to show us how the balances in capital reserves would look if those projects went ahead, and they have provided that information in the package. 


As always, this blog entry represents only my personal opinion.  It does not purport to represent the official position of the Town of Banff or its Council.

Hello everyone:

I know you're all very busy preparing for the holiday season, but there is also a lot going on at council ...


The next budget meeting is Monday from 9 to noon in council chambers.  You're very welcome to attend.

We've been working on the operational budget -- the part that covers day-to-day programs and services -- and have finished the line-by-line review.  At the last meeting, we asked administration to bring us a list of options to cut up to $179,000 from the budget.  On Monday, we'll be looking at those options and deciding on a target figure we would like to hit.

We'll also be looking at the capital budget -- the one that covers building new projects (or renovating old ones) and acquiring or replacing assets such as vehicles and equipment.  At our last meeting, we got some good news from administration:  a variety of factors have made it possible to avoid some of the borrowing that was in the capital plan.  However, as you know, we also have some important projects (such as Cave Avenue reconstruction, St Julien sidewalks, etc) that have had to be pushed back over the last couple of years.  I'll be checking to see whether we now have an opportunity to move any of those up the timeline a bit.

You can see the whole package for the budget meeting at this link:


The operating budget starts on page 2 of the package, and the capital budget information starts on page 64. 

Monday is the last scheduled budget meeting, but we'll see how we do -- it seems possible that we may need to schedule one more.


The regular meeting of council starts at 2 pm on Monday.  As always, the public is welcome.

You can see the whole package at this link:


Here are a few of the highlights:

Business licence bylaw

Council got lots of feedback (thank you!) on the proposed new rates and structure.  In response to what we've heard, administration is suggesting three additional changes:  lower the proposed rate for businesses that gross under $30,000 per year, create a graduated structure in the reservations/guiding/activities/DMC/event planner category, and add a rental car category.  You can see the report,  the bylaw, and the feedback we received starting on page 15 of the package.

 Electrical franchise fee

Council will be voting on whether to put a "municipal rate rider" on to electrical bills, as is done in many other Alberta municipalities.  This is proposed for 2% in 2011, going to 4% in 2012.  It is expected to cost around $9/year for the average residence, and around $12 - $36/year for the average business.  It depends on consumption, so the more your conserve, the less you pay.  I can support this, as long as council dedicates the money to energy-related projects, such as switching streetlights over to LEDs, or burying power lines.  You can see the whole report, starting on page 37 of the package.

Implementing the waste utility

We'll be voting on the proposed bylaw that will bring the waste utility into effect.  In the past, waste and recycling activities were all funded by property taxes.  If this new approach passes, we will phase in a user-pay approach over three years.  Businesses have been trying this out this past fall -- they get to pick the types of bins they need and their frequency of pickup.  Administration tells us that this is already leading to better waste diversion (businesses pay less for cardboard and organics than for mixed garbage, so there is an incentive to sort).  As well, it looks like we will see some operational efficiencies, as the trucks won't have to stop at every stop, every day.  You can see the report starting on page 65 of the package.

 2010 Visitor Experience Plan

Starting on page 76, you can see the draft plan for how the town will respond to identified visitor needs over the next few quarters.  This includes ideas such as helping visitors find washrooms and parking, adding audio commentary to the Roam transit, providing one-stop contact with the town for groups planning events, and so on.  In this discussion, I'll be expressing the opinion that all residents are stakeholders in this process, and that we should make a regular practice of consulting broadly, not just with identified organizations.

 Resident satisfaction survey

 You can see the results of the recent survey, starting on page 232 of the package.  It's great to see that, compared to 2007, 25% more residents rate the value they receive for their muncipal tax dollar as good or very good.  People ranked the library as the service that they're most satisfied with, and public safety (fire, ambulance, RCMP) as the service area that is most important.  This is very interesting reading -- many thanks to those of you who got involved in the survey!

Community measures report

The town tracks how we're doing on our Community Plan by reporting on various indicators -- those ones that we're measuring anyway, so that we don't incur extra expense for monitoring. You can see this year's report summary at this link:


You'll see encouraging numbers (waste diversion is up) and discouraging numbers (water consumption per person is also up).  It's an interesting report card.


 Our agenda packages for review this weekend totalled 458 pages ... thank goodness we do it all on laptops, rather than printing!!
As always, this post expresses my personal point of view. It does not purport to present the opinions of the Town of Banff or its Council.