Hello everyone:

What perfect weather for hunkering down and preparing for meetings.  Good thing, because this time of year is incredibly busy for council. 


As I mentioned in my last email to you, we have two budget meetings this week (Monday and Wednesday, 9 am – 12 noon).  Both will be focussing on the capital budget.   You are very welcome to attend these meetings – they are open to the public.  You can see all the background information for these meetings at this link:

Just scroll to the bottom of the page to see the current approved projects, the proposed new projects, the state of the Town’s capital reserves, and so on.

A few highlights to note:

Having done a thorough ranking of all the roads projects based on the current condition of the infrastructure, administration is proposing that we re-do the timing on some of these projects.  In the proposal, Cave Avenue reconstruction comes first in 2013, followed by the 300 block of Banff Avenue in 2014-15, Otter Street in 2015-16, and St Julien in 2017.  The roadway condition assessments and the very detailed costing sheets are in the public documents.  I’m pleased and impressed to see the level of objective assessment that has gone into this.

The town’s capital reserves are definitely looking healthier.  While we have an “infrastructure deficit” like pretty well every municipality in Canada, we are in a much better position than most and our trend is toward improvement, not toward increasing problems.  You may be interested in the “Debt” headings in the Capital Reserves document - you’ll see that 2012 is the last year of the debt for Banff Refreshing.

Some interesting new projects are proposed for council’s consideration.  These include major work on the library entryway, fencing for an off-leash dog park, Legacy Trail connections, a new “columbarium” (a place for cremation urns) at the Old Cemetery, etc.


You can see the whole package for council’s meeting on Monday at the following link:

Land Use Bylaw working group

This group of dedicated volunteers has met 10 times, for three hours per time, in recent weeks.  We owe them all a debt of gratitude!  Chair David Bayne is bringing their final report to council tomorrow.  You can read the full report starting on page 3 of the package.

On the question of whether we should have spot zoning for gas stations and grocery stores, their consensus recommendation is no.  They feel that there is not an evident problem at present, and that even if there were, spot zoning would not be an effective approach.

On the question of whether we should attempt to control formula fast food establishments, they did not reach consensus.  However, a portion of the group felt that quotas might be worth exploring.  This would mean that the Land Use Bylaw would specify the total number of FFR establishments that would be in town at any given time, or would say “of our total restaurants, only X% may be FFR”.  This idea is interesting, because it does not involve the Town meddling in each and every individual transaction, and it provides long-term clarity over what will and will not be allowed, now and in the future.   I look forward to further exploration of this approach.

On the question of housing and parking requirements for new development, the group provided input rather than recommendations.  The ideas and questions that they raise will be valuable in the further development of the land use bylaw.

Off-leash dog park briefing

Council received input from 438 people on this issue.  Starting on page 46 of the package, you can see the results of the survey and discussion of the two proposed locations.  This is a briefing to help Council decide what to put in the capital budget for this project.  I’m inclined to think that the industrial compound location is the more workable one.  Kudos to all the folks who said they would help with donations, fundraising, or keeping the dog park clean!

Tax exempt status

Starting on page 121 of the package, you can see the report on all the properties in Banff that could potentially be taxable (or partly taxable) but at present receive tax exemptions from the Town of Banff.  Council has decided that it’s reasonable to review these exemptions once every three years to see whether they should be continued.    Each property has provided a background information document on their application for tax exemption.

There are many more tax-exempt properties in the town (schools, churches, etc) but they are not on this list because they are not potentially taxable.

Letters regarding Banff Tea Company

Council has received input from 20 people about the Banff Tea Company and the possibility that David’s Tea may be considering renting a Banff location.  I read every word, and you, too, can read these letters and emails, starting on page 154 of the package.

All the best until next time -- Leslie

Just thought that you might like to know about Council’s budget process.

You can see the schedule of budget meetings and pick up agenda packages at this link:

Budget meetings are scheduled 9 am to 12 noon on:
November 21
November 28
November 30
December 5
December 7
December 12
All budget meetings are open to the public – we’d be delighted if you were to attend.

On November 21, council will hear from 11 different community organizations that would like funding from the Town.  You can see the package at this link:

On November 28 and 30, we will be looking at the capital budget, followed by the operating budget in December.

The financial plan http://www.banff.ca/Assets/PDFs/Town+Hall+PDF/Budget+PDF/financial-plan.pdf  shows the assumptions and principles we asked staff to follow in creating the draft budget. 


Council has a very busy schedule in the coming week.  But before I get to that, how about a little ...


The library has its fundraising gala this coming Friday (November 18) at 7:30 pm.  I hear from board members that there are some wonderful auction items.  Tickets ($25) are available from board members and at the library.  It’s a great opportunity to see all your friends, brighten up a November evening and support the library, so I hope to see you there.


Parks planning forum

This week is the annual Parks Canada planning forum. 

Wednesday evening at 7 pm, you can join the Banff superintendents for their “open mike” Q & A session (Harkin Hall at the Admin Building).  They’ll be providing some background on what’s gone on in the park this year, and answering any park-related questions from the audience. 

Thursday from 8:30 am to 4 pm (203 Kinnear building at The Banff Centre) will be the round table section of the planning forum.  This year’s areas of concentration are winter activities and trails.  There will be lots of opportunities for all those present to get involved in the small-group sessions.

Off-leash dog park

Go to www.banff.ca and click on the link from the home page to fill out a survey about off-leash dog park options.  Whether you’re a dog owner or not, this is an opportunity to comment on a project that may show up on the capital budget in the near future.


Monday from 10 to noon, council will be meeting as the Finance Committee. This is an open public meeting and – as always – you are very welcome to attend.  You can see the agenda package here:

Pre-planning for the audit

The Town’s auditors (KPMG) will present their plan for how the Town’s audit will be carried out at the end of this year.  The audit process is very important, not just because of the double-check on the accuracy of our reporting, but also because the auditors point out any improvements we can make in our financial tracking and reporting systems.

Third quarter results and forecast

Starting on page 4 of the package, you can see the town’s third-quarter financial results and the forecasting to year-end.  The short version is that staff is predicting that the Town, overall, will be right on budget at year-end, which is excellent news. 

Drilling down into the detail, you’ll see quite a bit of movement up and down in various areas.  For example, the Town has had to transfer $256K out of the budget stabilization reserve to offset the decrease in provincial funding for our police services.  Council chose to transfer $90K out of the budget stabilization reserve in order to do the tree replacements on Banff Ave all at once.  Transfers to capital reserves in sewer and water are down because the consumption of water was less than we expected.  The town has saved more on the wages and benefits line than council had asked for, but this extra saving has been offset by over-budget expenditures in other areas.  On each page, notes at the bottom explain the reasons for items being over or under budget.


Council meets Monday at 2 pm – you’re very welcome to come and listen in!  You can see the full agenda package at this link:  http://www.banff.ca/Assets/PDFs/Town+Hall+PDF/Council+Agendas+PDF/2011+Agendas+PDF/council-agenda-111114.pdf

Here are some highlights from the agenda:

Council 2012 priorities

Every year, council highlights some key items that we’d like to concentrate on (while, of course, keeping all the other balls in the air as well!).  The 2012 priorities are coming to council for approval on Monday.  You can read the detail in the report that starts on page 8 of the package, but the short-form list is:
• Sustainable transportation (updating the transportation plan, working to ease congestion and reduce emissions)
• Phase 2 and 3 of the Land Use Bylaw
• Supporting the Competitive Initiative (this is the plan to focus on student travel, regional conferences, winter animation, etc)
• Seeking resort community status (the attempt to deal with our unique financial challenges through different funding approaches)
• And (yay!) urban forest management (continued implementation of the forest renewal plan)

Buying the Spirit Bear

Michale Lang is bringing a proposal that the Town should partner with the Whyte to permanently acquire the new bear sculpture that’s in front of the Whyte.  The Whyte has already put together $87K in funding support.  I love this idea!  Unfortunately, it would mean going against the opinion already expressed by the public art committee, so that makes it rather tricky.  You can read Michale’s letter on page 11 of the package.

Cave Avenue Reconstruction

A complete re-do of Cave Avenue is in the works for 2012.  Starting on page 25 of the package, you can read a briefing about the extensive public consultation process that has contributed to the design, and get some sense of what the final product is going to look like.  I’m hoping we will see more about the actual final design in a presentation in the meeting.  I’m particularly curious about the proposed width of the new road, with its parking spaces, bike lane and sidewalk, as compared to the existing roadway.

Contract renewal for Cascade Plaza public parking

As you may know, the town contracts with Cascade Plaza to make some of their parkade available for public parking.  This contract is ending soon, and administration is asking to negotiate an additional 5 years.

Social media

You can read a briefing about the Town’s use of social media, starting on page 93 of the package.  As you’ll see in the report, we’re having a lot of success with Facebook.  If you haven’t seen the Banff Facebook page, you can view it here:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/townofbanff  ... and perhaps Friend it, Like it, etc.


Council members will be meeting in strategy sessions at other times this week to get an initial look at the applications for tax exemption (decisions will be made later in a public meeting) and to review the budget strategy.  I also have a regional transit commission meeting on Wednesday – we are hard at work on the operating bylaw and financial procedures for the organization.


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but a lot of people still seem to be unaware of the Action Request, a great feature on the Town’s website  www.banff.ca   At the very top of every page, you'll see a white band with a string of words in black. Among those words is "Action Request". If you want to let the town know about a backed-up storm sewer or a burnt-out street-lamp or a broken Stop sign or an unshovelled sidewalk or your neighbour's dog that never stops barking, the Action Request is a great feature. Clicking on those words takes you to a quick and simple online form, so that you can let the town know what the problem is. If you request a callback, town staff will call you to let you know what action was taken. Using the Action Request is a quick and easy way to make your concerns known. It also lets us easily track complaints over time, so that we can identify areas that need more attention.


This post expresses my opinions only.  It does not purport to express the opinions of the Town of Banff or its Council.  Any errors are mine alone.  I am always happy to hear your comments or help with your questions about these items or any others relating to the municipal government.