Hello everyone:


Council has what looks like a long meeting on Monday – I’ve just finished going through the package in detail.  You can see the whole package at this link:


As always, you are very welcome to attend, and there will be two opportunities during the meeting to ask questions related to the meeting agenda.  Here are a few highlights:

Formula business quota bylaw

Starting on page 8 of the package, you can read the full background report, the draft bylaw, and the minutes from the public hearing.  As you’ll recall, this is a bylaw that would set a cap on the number of formula retail or restaurant businesses that can locate in any of the commercial districts in Banff.  The proposed cap would be somewhat above the numbers we have now, in order to ensure that no business is made non-conforming by the passage of the bylaw, and that everyone has lots of notice of the cap.

I have listened closely to the full range of public input on this bylaw – and I just have to say again how constructive and respectful everyone was during the discussion at the public hearing.  Several things that I heard have had major impacts on my thinking about this bylaw:

The need for a tactic to be related to a preferred future outcome, and the need for a public discussion on what that is:  People on all sides of this issue have talked about wanting a shared community vision of what our economic future should look like, and several have mentioned that this quota bylaw is a tactic to take us there, in advance of knowing where “there” is.  There was discussion during the public hearing about the economic prosperity process, and how that (or a similar public discussion) could take us closer to a shared idea of the preferred economic future of Banff.

Difficulty of reversal:  The point was made that we can pass this bylaw, and refer it to the Minister for approval, but – once it’s approved – we have no guarantees that we could get ministerial approval if we wanted to get rid of the bylaw.  This bylaw would be somewhat experimental, and if it had unintended consequences (for example, a rapid increase in formula businesses as people try to get in before the quota takes effect), we might not be able to reverse it.

The question of whether formula businesses are really the problem:  People have concerns about tacky-ness, and a wish to retain an authentic mountain community feel.  But there were lots of examples cited of formula retail businesses that fit with who we are, and the point was made that some independent, local businesses contribute actively to tacky-ness.

Having heard all that, I am presently thinking that I’m not convinced this bylaw is the right step, in its entirety.  But I would like to keep the definitions in the bylaw, and keep the idea of making formula businesses discretionary.  In future, I’m thinking, councils could decide through policy votes how that discretion is to be exercised.  This would be an approach that could be entirely locally controlled, and could respond more nimbly to the outcomes of the economic prosperity planning process, or other future public discussions.  I’m looking forward to talking this over with the rest of council and with staff on Monday, to see whether it might be workable.

Outdoor merchandise display policy – pilot project

Starting on page 48 of the package, you can read the report on a proposal to do a pilot project this summer on outdoor retail displays.  The idea is that Planning would work with the business community to develop guidelines for outdoor retailing, and then businesses could apply to be part of the pilot this summer.  The outdoor retailing displays would be up for the summer, and everyone would have a chance to comment on how they look, whether they affect the sidewalk use, and so on.

Looking at the report, though, I do find myself wondering exactly why we’re doing this.  We’ve had bylaws prohibiting outdoor retailing since the early 90s.  According to the report, even the people who showed up to the business meetings that Planning held in December seemed to be much more interested in having seasonal decorations, planters, etc. than they were in putting merchandise outdoors.  According to the report, lots of people in the business community share the concern that outdoor merchandise makes our downtown look tacky.  Looking at the report, it appears that the number of businesses wanting merchandise outdoors is similar to the number that were flouting the bylaw all along. I’d like to have a conversation on Monday about what we can do in this pilot to encourage planters, iconic welcoming displays, seasonal decorations (and I do mean seasonal, not Christmas in March!), while keeping merchandise indoors.

One-day business licences for out-of-town photographers

This bylaw is coming to council – you can see the report, starting on page 63 of the package.  Administration feels that this will not actually increase compliance, and that the one-month licenses already available are a reasonable attempt to meet the needs of photographers from out of town.  I’m inclined to agree. 

Warming shelters for the high school field ice rink

We have money in the capital budget to build two warming shelters in the 2014-2015 season.  The report that starts on page 66 of the package suggests that we move this money forward a year, so that we can build our shelters in partnership with Parks Canada, who are building some for cross-country skiers.  Putting all the shelters in one large contract should make ach shelter somewhat cheaper.  I think this is a great idea.  Yes, I know that I originally voted against the money for the high school rink, citing the quantities of skating opportunities already available, and the amount of money we were spending on them.  But I’ve become a convert – I love seeing people skating and playing hockey outdoors and right in the middle of town.

Cave Avenue design selection process

As you’ll recall, there is a design ready to go for Cave Avenue, but Council asked admin to slow down a bit, in order to make sure that people really understand what the finished product will look like.  In the report that starts on page 69 of the package, you’ll see the process that the town is going to go through to make sure people have another chance to see the alternatives and have input on what they like.  I think this is a good approach.

Proposed rickshaw tour service

Starting on page 76, you’ll see a report on a proposed rickshaw tour operation.  Planning is asking for Council’s guidance on whether to go further on this.  My personal feeling is that this is not a good fit for Banff.  Rickshaws are not part of our history, the pace of the rickshaw when on the roads will be slower than traffic, causing back-ups, the rickshaw will take up most of the Bow River pathway width when it’s on the pathway.

Sewer back-up – concerns expressed

Starting on page 99, you’ll see correspondence and a report describing a situation in which a backup occurred on a service line between a home and the town’s main line.  The homeowners are not happy with the way the repair process was carried out.  The town manager will be offering to meet with them to explore this further.


Last week, we had more than 1,000 riders!  If you haven’t ridden this service yet, give it a try – it’s a very relaxing way to go to/from Canmore.


As always, this post gives my personal point of view, not that of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments or questions!

All the best until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

First, let me say how great it was to see so many people out for the public hearing on the formula business quota bylaw.  I was so proud of our community as I saw everyone listening intently and politely to all speakers, clapping after all presentations (whether they agreed with them or not), and looking to build on areas of agreement.  It was so civil, so respectful, and so essentially Canadian.  If you weren’t able to be there, you can see the draft minutes from the meeting in this week’s council package.  Council members have to think about what we heard, and then the bylaw comes back for voting on second reading on February 25.


This past week, Council also held a joint meeting with Canmore council in their chambers.  It was an information meeting, not an official decision-making meeting, but it concentrated on the various ways we have worked together and could work together.  There were presentations on regional transit, on the work with the province to complete the Legacy trail between the park gates and the Travel Alberta info centre, and on Banff’s new N-Viro treatment for biosolids and organics, and how Canmore might be able to be involved in that in the future.  We also saw the plans for the aging-in-place development that is underway in Canmore.  It’s very encouraging to see work on new supported living spaces for seniors, as studies have shown us the gap between what we need in the future and what we have now.


Council’s meeting on Monday looks as if it will be brief.  You can see the whole package at this link:

Here are a few highlights:

Delegation regarding the obstetrics closure at Banff Mineral Springs

I see from the agenda that this will be related to transportation, but I can’t tell you more yet, as there is no written information in the agenda package.

Draft minutes from the quota bylaw public hearing

Council will be asked to review and approve these.  You can see them starting on page 10 of the package.

Council compensation committee

One of the toughest votes for any elected officials is on the matter of salaries for their positions.  Unfortunately, those votes have to be held from time to time.  It’s best to have good, clear recommendations from a process that is outside council, so that no one who might benefit from the recommendation is involved in making it.  At Monday’s meeting, council is being asked to set up a five-member public committee that will look at our compensation policy and make some recommendations that can be voted on before the next election.  If this passes, and we start recruiting members, I do hope that some of you will express an interest in serving on this committee!  You can see the whole report, starting on page 22 of the package.

WOW – a second community greenhouse!

Starting on page 30 of the package, you can read about a proposal to construct a second community greenhouse in a new and very central location – on top of Cascade Plaza’s parking.  Looks like the money is mostly in place, the private partners are willing, and there are just a few details to be sorted out.  This is great news, and I am in total support of the Town providing any in-kind assistance possible.  Hats off to everyone involved in bringing this second project into action so quickly!

Draft 2012 Banff Community Social Assessment

Every five years or so, our FCSS group works with people around the community to assess our social strengths and needs, and to suggest ideas that could help us with those needs.  Good things have come out of past reports, such as the Banff Affordability Guide, the first community greenhouse, low income transit initiatives, and many more.  You can read all about the social assessment process in a report that starts on page 34 of the package, but the real meat starts on page 59, where you’ll see the recommendations coming from this year’s assessment.  There are great community-building ideas, such as “Know your neighbour” night, or collective kitchen initiatives, or “affordable good food box” information.


Council will also meet on Monday as the BHC shareholder.  This is a simple agenda – we’ll just be reviewing for approval the Terms of Reference for how the shareholder and the BHC Board work together.  It’s a way of clarifying who does what and making that information accessible to the public.  You can see the whole package at this link:


On Monday morning, Council will be attending an educational session about tax policy.  Wednesday afternoon is the monthly meeting of the Bow Valley Transit Services Commission – I look forward to more good news about ridership on the new Banff-Canmore route.  Wednesday evening, the hospital is holding an information session about the obstetrics move, and I will try to attend, as I did the information session at St. Mary’s a couple of weeks ago.


As always, this email reflects my personal point of view.  This is not an official communication of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions!

All the best until next time -- Leslie