Hello everyone:

Glad to see the weather forecast brightening up a bit!  Before I get out to enjoy this 7-degree day, here is an update on what’s going on with Council.


Council meets on Monday at 2 pm.  As always, we’d be delighted to see you in the public gallery – there are two opportunities during the meeting for you to ask questions related to Monday’s agenda.  For those of you who are thinking of running in the fall, it’s definitely not too early to start getting up to speed on the issues!

You can see the whole council package for Monday at this link:

Here are a few highlights from the meeting package ...

Mountain View Estates Housing Co-op

On page 5 of the package, you can see a letter from the Co-op, indicating that they would like to work on an Area Redevelopment Plan.  The density changes in the Land Use Bylaw have created opportunities for their residents to increase the size of their units, and the Co-op is interested in being proactive and looking at how this will affect their area overall.  I applaud the Co-op’s interest in looking ahead, and ensuring that their part of town remains a great place to live.

Library Board By-laws

The Library Board has been doing some tidying up of their bylaws, and they’re bringing the results to Council for approval.  You can see their report starting on page 6 of the package.

The Transportation Plan Continues!

Given that the Crag has already run a survey asking if our transportation changes were good enough, you might be forgiven for thinking that this plan has been reviewed and adopted.  In fact, Council ran out of time at the last meeting and had to postpone the rest of the plan to this coming Monday.  We have about two-thirds of the recommendations still to look at, including paid parking, which will definitely prompt some lively discussion.  In most of the discussions I’ve had, people can support the idea of paid parking if the money is going to a logical end, such as improving transit.  What do you think?

A few of the recommendations that were approved at the last meeting:  implementing a scramble intersection at Banff and Caribou, implementing angle parking in the 100 block of Bow, opening up turning lanes in front of the post office and the Seniors’ Centre, making line changes on Banff Avenue at Buffalo Street to help get straight-on traffic through the intersection.  Most were for implementation this summer, but the scramble intersection will be in 2014.  To see a complete list of what was approved, take a look at that part of the minutes, starting on page 38 of this package.  And you can see the reports and recommendations for this meeting, starting on page 43, and then again on page 134, of this package.

Skateboarding enforcement

On page 106 of the package, you can see a letter urging stronger enforcement of skateboarding rules.  I agree that skateboarding on downtown sidewalks and the river path is a safety hazard, and I really appreciate the skateboarders who follow the rules, and carry their boards in areas of high pedestrian traffic.  Unfortunately, I have had a few experiences similar to those of our letter writer.  The writer points out that the only reason to oppose increased fines would be that one is intending to break the bylaw.  What do you think?  Is it time to increase the fines?

Economic Prosperity Strategy – phase 2

At the last meeting, Council received the report from Phase 1, in which a wide range of people were interviewed and surveyed to gather their opinions on what a prosperous Banff would look like.  Now it’s time to lay out some strategies and tactics that would move us in the directions people identified.  In the report starting on page 127, you can see proposals for three options to do this.  I would like to see Option 3 -- a consultant working with a broad-based local steering committee.  This would require taking some money from our Budget Stabilization Reserve, so I will be asking for a reminder on what our target is for that reserve, and how close we are to that target, before making my vote.

2011-2012 Crime Statistics

Ever wanted to know how many people are reported as “missing”, or how many people spend the night in our cells, or how many cars are stolen?  Starting on page 130 of the package, you can see all the details f these items and many, many more for 2011 and 2012.  The report also points out that false or abandoned 911 calls used up the equivalent of one-half of a full-time police officer in 2012.  Pocket-dialing appears to be the main cause, so let’s all be very careful.  911 is a wonderful service that should not be abused!


Finance Committee

On Monday morning at 10 am, Council meets as the Finance Committee.  This is an open public meeting, and you’re always welcome to attend.  This week’s meeting includes a review of the Q1 forecast (staff are presently forecasting that we will finish 2013 right on budget), a discussion of how to best link the service review to the budget, and a request to provide a dumpster for the United Church, and empty it without fees, to help with their thrift shop service.

You can see the entire package for this meeting at this link:

Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference

I will be attending this conference in Vancouver, departing on Thursday.  The FCM is the network for Canadian municipalities across the country, and the direct connection between Canadian municipalities and the federal government.  It carries our messages about such key issues as infrastructure deficits, lobbying for municipalities on Parliament Hill.  I find this conference a valuable opportunity to learn about best practices from other municipalities, and to let others know about what we’re doing in Banff.  This year, I’ll be concentrating on housing-related information to bring back to the Community Housing Strategy committee.  You can see the information about this conference at the following link:

Council’s policy allows each councillor to attend one conference out of province (usually the FCM), and one conference in province (usually the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association), each budget year.  However, the actual money in the budget does not provide enough to do both, so this will be my one council-supported conference this year.


As always, any opinions in this post are my personal opinions.  This post 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

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


Council has a very (very!) busy meeting on Monday.  You can see the whole package at this link:

Here are a few of the highlights from the package:

Budget amendment and tax rate

Starting on page 69 of the package, you can read two reports about the impact of the provincial education tax changes on our community’s budget and on our 2013 property taxes.

If you’re a regular reader of these emails, you’ll recall that the Town has been steadily increasing our contributions to capital reserves (the “savings account” that the Town maintains so that future replacements of infrastructure won’t break the bank for the future taxpayers).  We’ve been doing that by “occupying the taxing room” left by decreases in the province’s education taxes collected from Banff.  We had every reason to believe that this trend would continue for at least a couple more years, given what was said during the election, and what the province’s mayors were told by the Municipal Affairs minister just days before the budget came out (“The province will not be balancing its budget on the backs of municipalities”!). 

Unfortunately, the provincial budget did not match what we thought we had been told, and the impact on Banff’s 2013 property taxes has been substantial. 

In order to mitigate the effect on taxpayers, town administration is proposing that we lower the amount going to capital reserves from this year’s budget.  I’m very concerned about this, as we have worked hard as a community to get to the point where we could see that our future infrastructure needs were covered.  This would be a step back from that achievement.  It’s always easy to cut contributions to capital reserves, because the effects are long-term, not short-term.  It’s short-term gain for long-term pain.  I want to discuss with other councillors and staff whether this is really the right way for us to react.

Even with the proposed cut to capital contributions, it appears likely that property taxes will go up substantially.  At a 6 to 1 commercial/residential split, which is what is being proposed, the overall tax increase will be 6.5% for residential, and 4.24% for commercial.  Compare this to 1.71%, which is what we had budgeted for, before the surprise news from the province.

Municipal election 2013

Starting on page 85 of the package, you can read all about the organization required for the 2013 municipal election.  Just a reminder here:  if you’re thinking of running, and are looking for advice or information, I’d be delighted to chat!  Start planning now, because October is coming up fast.  It appears likely that at least two incumbents will not be running again, and we need YOU good people to step up and offer your ideas and energy as candidates for council.

What is “economic prosperity” in the Banff context?

Many of you participated in focus groups, interviews, or online surveys to help define “economic prosperity” as we see it here in Banff.  The results are inspiring, and you can read all about them, starting on page 101 of the package.  There are some really meaningful themes that are common across the different sectors, including a belief in the importance of being worthy of our location in Banff National Park. 

This report is coming for Council’s information.  Phase 2 of the Economic Prosperity project will involve a steering committee working with a consultant to craft an economic prosperity plan that reflects what people have said they want to see.

Transportation Master Plan – some recommendations

The TMP is a huge document, with many recommendations, but only the ones to do with traffic management and parking are coming to Council tomorrow (more will come later).  You can see the report starting on page 183 of the package.  It does a very good job of summarizing the recommendations, the reasoning behind them, the public feedback, and what the next steps might be.  There are a surprising number that could be put in place this summer:  turning lane changes at Banff & Buffalo, seasonal turning lanes at Buffalo & Bear, summer parking spots in front of the High School, a “scramble” intersection at Banff & Caribou, additional parking through angle stalls on Bow Avenue (100 block) and by the library ... and many more. 

The one recommendation that everyone wants to talk about, however, is paid parking.  Just as I said in this 2008 blog post http://www.lataylor.com/node/70 , I believe that paid parking is an effective demand-side parking management tool.  It seems incongruous that we ask people to pay to ride transit to our downtown, and yet we all pay through our taxes to provide “free” parking for private vehicles.  Parking technology has improved so much that we can be flexible with rates and possibly offer parking options to residents.  I think this recommendation is worth pursuing, and I will be voting to have staff bring back a further report on how this could be implemented.  If paid parking becomes a reality, I would love to earmark the revenue for transportation improvements.


As always, this blog post presents just my personal opinions.  It does not purport to be a communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions, and I welcome new email subscribers ... although there will only be about nine more of these before the election.