Hello everyone:

What an interesting week it has been.  It was great to see so many people out for the all-candidates’ forum on Thursday night!  I hope that we have a high voter turnout tomorrow.


For the provincial election tomorrow, you can vote at the high school between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.  For questions about voting:  www.elections.ab.ca


We’re working on a new street lighting policy.  You can find a link to the Town’s new GIS-based commenting tool here:

Having said that, I just gave it a try, floundered around a bit, and gave up.  To me, it doesn’t seem very user-friendly -- I’ll ask about this tomorrow at council.  But, in the meantime, have a go – you may be much better at this than I am!


Council meets tomorrow at 2 p.m. and – as always – you are very welcome to attend.   Every council agenda includes two opportunities for people in the gallery to ask questions about items on that day’s agenda.  You can see the whole agenda package for tomorrow at this link (it’s 9.8 MB, so will take awhile to open):


Here are some of the highlights ...

2011 Financial Results

You can see the town’s year-end actuals for 2011, starting on page 24 of the package, and the town’s audited financial statements starting on page 45.  Yes, I know that most of you will avoid these like the plague, but this is important information.  For example:

• The town was almost exactly on budget in 2011 – there was an $8K surplus.  There is a lot of background noise behind this overall figure – you can see notes for these variations on each page of the report.  (For example, we had to transfer $255K from our budget stabilization reserve to cover the cut in provincial funding for our RCMP, the hiring squeeze saved $182K more than Council had asked for in the budget, etc. etc.) 
• The town’s debt – incurred through major projects such as downtown reconstruction (a $22 million project) and the recreation centre (a $31 million project) -- is being paid off quite rapidly.  At the end of 2010, the town had tax/grant-supported debt of $17.5 million.  At the end of 2011, the town had tax/grant supported debt of $14.7 million.  The figure at the end of 2012 is budgeted to be lower yet again.  It’s good to see these figures in audited financial statements.

So, if you want the straight goods on where the town is at financially, please peruse these reports.  If you’re interested in historical comparisons, you can see the town’s audited financial statements going back several years on the website.

Farmers’ Market

Starting on page 104 of the package, you’ll find a report on the plans for the Farmers’ Market for this year.  The market will operate on Wednesdays from June 13 to September 12, and I know we’re all looking forward to it.  Council is being asked to allow additional event signage on market days – I am generally OK with what is being asked for, with the exception of proposed signage on the high school field fence.

Legacy Trail bridge options

Parks is extending the Legacy Trail at the Norquay entrance to town, so that cyclists can stay on a bike path from town out to Vermilion, rather than having to go on the road and make that somewhat hazardous left turn.  To tie into this, a ped/cycle bridge is proposed across 40-mile Creek.  The report (starting on page 150 of the package) shows options using re-used Glulam beams, or concrete, or fibreglass, or steel, or new Glulam.  We’ll be exploring the pros and cons in the meeting.  At present, I’m inclined to support re-using the Glulam beams in this new application.

Tennis court re-build

As I’m sure you all know, the tennis courts at the Rec Grounds are cracked and need repair or replacement.  These are the last two free, public courts in town – when I first came to Banff, there were eight!  The report recommends that we do a surface rehabilitation for $130K, but it’s risky, because the ground under the courts is prone to heaving.  The report says that the life of a resurfaced court could be anything from 3 – 15 years, and there’s no way of knowing for sure.  There is another option.  For $400K, we could do a total re-build, producing courts with an expected life of 30 years.  I would like council to explore and consider this option.  How much have we spent on skaters in town?  Surely we should give some consideration to what might work best, over the long term, for tennis.  You can see the report starting on page 169 of the package.


Starting on page 184, you can see a series of briefings to council about various programs:  the upcoming community social/recreational assessment, the grant funding for the Get Out program, and the work of the Bow Valley Learning Council (formerly the Bow Corridor Continuing Education Council).


At 4:30, council will take a break from the Council meeting to meet as the BHC shareholder.  You can see the package for the meeting at this link:

As always, this meeting is open to the public.  We’ll look at the 2011 audited statements (starting on page 4 of the package), the 2012 business plan and budget (starting on page 17 of the package), review the overall value of the BHC’s equity share in housing (starting on page 25 of the package), and update bylaws and policy to incorporate some new direction from the shareholder to BHC.  This includes direction to pursue rental housing, and acknowledges that the Town may pay for activities that it asks BHC to undertake for the benefit of the overall community.


Council members meet tomorrow with the Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association to discuss a range of subjects of interest to the association.  On Tuesday and Thursday, we’re involved with a social studies project with the Grade 12 students.  Banff Housing Corporation Board meets on Friday morning.


It appears to me that sometimes the statement “you didn’t listen” is used, when what is meant is “you didn’t agree”.  It is possible to listen to someone, very carefully, even multiple times, and still not agree with them.  For example, any of you might have come to the all-candidates’ forum during the municipal election in 2010, you might have listened closely to what all the candidates had to say, and you might have decided not to vote for me (darn!).  That would *not* mean that you didn’t listen to me.  It would just mean that – taking into account what I said, plus everything else you’ve heard and experienced – you didn’t agree with me.  And that would be fine.


As always, this post represents my individual point of view.  This is not a communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions. 

All the best until next time!  Leslie

Hello everyone, and happy Easter weekend!  The robins and the bluebirds are back, the snow is amazingly beautiful on the mountains (and a little daunting in our driveways) and --somewhere in the Bow Valley -- a prairie crocus is blooming.

Before I get to Council business, how about ...


As I’m sure you know, we go to the polls on April 23 for an election that looks livelier than any we have seen in some time.  If you’re having trouble deciding which party best aligns with your values and opinions, you might find Vote Compass helpful (  www.cbc.ca/votecompass ).  And if you want a chance to compare the candidates for our Banff-Cochrane riding in person, there will be an all-candidates’ forum at the Banff Park Lodge on April 19th, 7 – 9 pm.  Hold the date in your calendar!


Council meets on Tuesday this week, because of the Easter long weekend.  The meeting is at 2 p.m. at Town Hall and, as always, you are very welcome to attend.  You can see the whole package for the meeting at this link:  http://www.banff.ca/Assets/PDFs/Town+Hall+PDF/Council+Agendas+PDF/2012+Agendas+PDF/Council-Agenda-120410.pdf

Here are the highlights:

Sewer siphon/pedestrian bridge report

If you would like the straight goods on what the two options for the sewer/water crossing would cost, you can see the whole report starting on page 10 of the council package.  Page 34 of the report shows you, side-by-side, the costing for the sewer/water plus pedestrian bridge option (as per the firm quote from the successful bidder) plus all ancillary costs, and the costing for the directional drilling option that is preferred by a group of citizens (as per the budget prepared by the contractor recommended by those citizens) plus all ancillary costs.  That contractor has now seen all the geotechnical and engineering information that the Town has, and has therefore been able to prepare a better-informed figure. 

The Town had examined directional drilling as an option last summer when we looked at the four options for crossing the river, but we have gone back and re-examined this option as requested.

In summary:
What you get:  ped bridge option:  sewer/water crossing, emergency vehicle crossing, ped/cycle crossing
                               Directional drilling option:  sewer/water crossing

What it costs:  ped bridge option:  $6,723,595.56
Directional drilling option:  $6,477,000.00.  This figure does not include the release fee to Parks Canada to allow construction of a building on the south bank – that cost is, as yet, unknown.  The release fee to Parks for the rec centre addition, for example, was $400,000.

Offsetting grants from the province:       ped bridge option:  eligible for a grant of $370,000, bringing total to 6,353,595.56.  This grant, however, could also be applied to other projects (sidewalks, road overlays) in town.
                                                                                Directional drilling option:  not eligible, leaving total at 6,477,000.00

What you will see when it’s done:  ped bridge option:  a bridge across the river – see a rendering here: 
      Directional drilling option:  Nothing across the river, and a lift station building about the size of the Wolf Street washrooms on the south side of the river.  The directional drilling option would not be “gravity feed” – this is because the driller would have to go 9.5 metres below the river bed to find a layer that is geotechnically suitable.

Operating costs:  Similar for both.  Because of the 9.5 metre drop and gain for the directional drilling, both would be pumped systems.

But please, don’t just read my summary.  Take a look at the report.  Read the opinions of two independent engineering companies on the risk factors related to each option. 

And just a reminder:  Council is not choosing between this project and the Central Park/Rec Grounds ped bridge project.  No matter what happens on Tuesday with the sewer siphon/ped bridge discussion, the Central Park bridge project remains as is:  a project already approved by majority vote of Council, ready to go whenever the construction costs (in the range of $2 million) become available.  We cannot take money from the sewer crossing project and do the Central Park bridge with it, because the sewer crossing needs to be replaced.

Sponsorship policy

Starting on page 42 of the package, you’ll see an updated version of the draft Sponsorship policy for the town.  This update takes care of the concerns that I expressed in the last meeting.  You can see (starting on page 50 of the package) the list of the facilities and programs that would and would not be eligible for sponsorship opportunities.


This week, I have a workshop session on the transportation master plan on Tuesday morning, a meeting of the regional transit commission on Wednesday afternoon, and Banff Housing Corp on Friday morning.  Council is also doing its best to meet with the various candidates for MLA (if they wish to meet us), to ensure that they are up to speed on the municipal issues here in Banff.


As always, this post represents my opinion only.  This email is not an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  As always, I welcome your questions and comments – and any new subscribers. 

All the best until next time -- Leslie