Hello everyone:

Here are some highlights of what Council is up to this week ...


The Banff Housing Corporation is looking for a public member.  You can read all about this important opportunity here:
and here:

I`m on the BHC board, and I find it challenging and a worthwhile use of my time.  I hope that you might be keen to work on this important issue in our community.  All applications are appreciated, however the BHC is presently seeking a non-BHC-homeowner member in keeping with the working group recommendations.  Closing date is October 27th.


The Finance Committee meets Monday at 1 pm in Council Chambers.  This is an open public meeting, you are welcome to attend!  You can see the whole package at this link:

Reduction in 2012 waste utility rates

As you know, we went to a solid waste utility this past year, and we’re phasing in the utility payments over time.  As well, the Town has undertaken solid waste collection for Parks, resulting in some efficiencies in staff and equipment costs.  Looking at costs and revenues so far, administration is suggesting that we lower residential waste utility rates in 2012.  You can see the report starting on page 4 of the package.  I’m inclined to support Option 2, which would result in a 12% decrease in waste utility bills to homeowners, while still keeping enough money in the utility to pay for more frequent pickups of the items that people dump illegally beside the bins.  I don’t like to “reward” people by picking up their illegally dumped items, but a lot of people (myself included) really dislike seeing the mess around the bins, and more frequent pickups will help with this.  We’ll keep up the effort to educate people about the many ways to legally get rid of their over-size waste items.

While I’m on this topic – I’d just like to put in a plug for Bow Valley Freecycle.  http://groups.freecycle.org/BowValleyFreecycle/posts/all   This is a way to find people who might be able to use your no-longer-wanted items, or find items for FREE that you need.  I’ve used it to acquire an office chair and to give away a backyard trampoline.  It’s a great system.

Change in the Recreation Centre borrow

As you’ll remember, the Rec Centre project came in $1.6 million under budget.  Furthermore, as you’ll see in the report that starts on page 7 of the package, staff have found a way to save money on the borrowing that was done for the project.  Because the Rec Centre has met and exceeded energy saving requirements, the Town was eligible for a $400K grant and a $4 million low-interest loan from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Fund.  The report is about options for paying back some of the money we borrowed at 3.344% and replacing it with a longer-term loan at 2%.  Net saving on the cost of borrowing will be over $300,000.  This is the result of excellent work by all the staff involved.

Public membership on the Finance Committee

The report that starts on page 9 of the package is a way of opening the discussion about whether we should appoint public members to the Finance Committee, or whether there should be a separate Budget Committee with public members, or whether the present system works fine.  At present, the Finance Committee consists of all council members, and its meetings are all open to the public, with agenda packages on the town`s website.  Would YOU be keen to be a public member on the Town`s finance committee – do let me know!


You can see the overall package for the council meeting at this link:
It starts at 2 pm in the council chambers, and you are very welcome to attend.  There are two opportunities during the meeting for people in the gallery to ask questions about items on the agenda.

Here are some highlights:

Delegate presentations

Parks Canada will be making a presentation about the Wildfire Plan, and the Biosphere Institute will be making a presentation about the work of their organization.  Alas, I can`t tell you more, because we don`t have any advance written material on those two presentations.

Council process stuff

Council will be asked to approve a new `BYOD`` (Bring Your Own Device) approach.  For the past 4 years, council members have had laptops issued to them by the town and maintained by the town.  This approach has saved unimaginable reams of paper.  The new suggestion, which will cost the Town less money, is that councillors should buy and maintain their own portable devices, receiving an allowance of $500 per year for that purpose, which will be a taxable benefit.  You can read about this starting on page 13 of the package.

Council will also be asked to approve a revised policy for making committee appointments.  One item that I want to discuss here is whether we should have a limit on how long any one person can serve on a particular committee.  I know it`s very hard to get volunteers, but I also know that having some turnover is healthy.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

Methods for prioritizing and costing out road projects

You`ll see an information briefing, starting on page 37 of the package, about how the Town will prioritize and cost out road work throughout the town.  There`s a detailed example showing how a Rabbit Street project would be costed.  I look forward to hearing the details of the actual prioritization process – I assume they`ll be in a verbal presentation.


But yes, there is even MORE fun to be had in council chambers on Monday!  Council will also be having its annual organizational meeting.  This is the meeting at which we set the schedule for the coming year, and appoint council members, parks reps and public reps to various committees.  You can see the package for this meeting at this link:


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


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  As the turkey roasts to golden perfection, perhaps you have a moment to read about Tuesday’s council meeting ...


First, a reminder that council moves to Tuesday this week, because of the holiday Monday.  The meeting will be at 2 pm in council chambers, and – as always – you are very welcome to attend.  There are two opportunities in each meeting for members of the public to ask questions about items on the day’s agenda.  You can see the whole agenda package at this link:

Here are a few highlights:

Report on Library Benchmarks

You can see how the Banff Public Library’s usage, collection size, and cost compares to others in the province by taking a look at the detailed report from the library, starting on page 3 of the package.  Lots of good news here:  our library is free to users, we fund our library by more per capita than the average community in Alberta, we have 2.5 times the visits per capita of the average community, we have a large library collection for our size, and our library gets excellent reviews from its users.

Skateboards, 11 pm – 7 am

The bylaw amendment is coming back to council for second and third reading.  This amendment would lift the present ban on skateboard use between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am.  As you’ll recall, I asked council to wait until this meeting for final consideration, in order to give people on the other side of the question a chance to comment.  The town has received only three requests to keep the ban in place, along with over a dozen requests to lift it.  It therefore appears to me that the concern about noise is not as widespread as I had thought.   With all that in mind, I’m feeling inclined to vote to lift the ban – although, of course, I’ll listen to any additional comments at Council on Tuesday.  I will be asking council, however, to place a mark in the council calendar for this to come back for a follow-up report a year from now, just to see what the consequences of changing the bylaw have been at that point.

By the way, an interesting side effect of this whole conversation has been reading people’s comments about what they believe cyclists are and aren’t required to do at night.  Just to help clear this up, I will mention that the Alberta Highway Traffic Safety Act requires cyclists travelling at night to have a white light at the front, a red light at the rear, and reflectors visible from the sides.  Fines are listed for those not complying.

Water and sewer rates

Council is being asked to phase in water and sewer rate increases over the next 20 years, to ensure that our capital reserves are ready for the necessary repairs and maintenance that will come up.  If we go with the 20-year option, the effect on the average residence in 2012 would be a $20 increase, assuming levels of consumption stayed the same.  I think this is a small price to pay to guarantee our clean water and clean river into the future, so I’m inclined to go with this recommendation, although council will also be considering a 40-year phase-in.  You can see the whole report starting on page 40 of the package.

Two new 1-bedroom units, but more costs than expected

The town has a staff housing reserve, which is built up from rental revenue from staff housing units.  The purpose of the reserve is to make sure that we can repair and replace units as we need to. 

At present, the town is working on a project to build two new one-bedroom units into the basement of an existing town-owned house on Cougar St.  This is being done to meet the housing requirements that were part of the Rec Centre redevelopment.  Council had approved a $125K budget, with $42K from the Rec Centre contribution and the remainder from the staff housing reserves.  Unfortunately, tenders came in higher than expected and – between that and some proposed environmental upgrades, we’re being asked to increase the budget for the project to $183,000 (the additional money will come from the staff housing reserves).

I agree in principle with providing more housing, and with environmental upgrades.  I will be asking about the design process, however, since we not only have a project going over its designed budget, but we also have a huge spread in the tenders, which leads me to wonder whether the design and specs were clear enough for builders to do good bids.

You can see the whole report starting on page 48 of the package.

Transportation planning

Starting on page 55 of the package, you’ll see a briefing report on the town’s ongoing work on transportation planning.  Perhaps the most interesting part is on pages 69-74, where the writer compares our 1998 transportation plan objectives with what is in place in 2011.  It’s actually rather encouraging to see the progress on many fronts, although – of course – new problems emerge.  The town is working on a transportation plan update, and you can see the details of how this will be done in the report.

Farmers’ Market 2012

Council is being asked to lay out the conditions under which a farmers’ market could take place in 2012.  The suggestion is that it would run weekly for 14 weeks, rather than 10 as it did this year.  When you look at the report (starting on page 81 of the package) it is pretty disappointing to see the tiny amount of user feedback that was collected, and – although the planning department did interview local businesses – business feedback is not included in the report.  So I will have some questions to ask about this, especially since council emphasized the need for such feedback when we gave permission for the pilot project. 

My own personal observations would suggest that the market was a success and that residents enjoyed it (I sure did!) and that it did not appear to create major disruption for traffic or for other businesses.  But one person’s personal observation is a pretty flimsy foundation for decision-making. I’d like to support it for next year, but would be happy to hear what you think!


Opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post does not purport to represent the position(s) of the Town of Banff or its Council.