This Wednesday, I'll be facilitating the second in a series of public Community Conversations in Golden, B.C.

https://www.facebook.com/events/435744943203534

This is a great initiative by Golden's Mayor and councillors, supported by the Columbia Basin Trust.  Over this fall and winter, these once-monthly lunchtime conversations will explore a range of questions, everything from "What does quality of life mean to you?" to "How do you measure value for money?" to "What does it take to be a good citizen?"  Community Conversations are a way for Golden residents to explore, face-to-face, the questions that matter to their community, and provide ideas and input directly to their elected representatives.

Since I believe so strongly in the value and effectiveness of democracy in small towns, this facilitation assignment is a natural fit for me.  We had a great turnout in October, and we're hoping to pack the house this Wednesday!

As you may recall, I kept my "election" pages visible throughout my service on council.  I've always felt that every elected representative should be accountable long-term for what they said when they were campaigning.

Now that this site has been revamped to concentrate on my facilitation work, the button for "election" has disappeared.  But the archived pages remain, and can be seen at http://www.lataylor.com/election

When I look back at those pages, I see some things that I was able to move forward, and other areas where I failed to be persuasive enough to make change happen.  Reminding myself of my original goals puts my council service into perspective for me.  Goals have a tendency to morph in our minds over time -- having them in their original written form makes for a ruthlessly accurate personal check-in.

I just saw this link on Facebook:

http://everydaytourist.ca/blog/2013/11/5/yahoooo-the-grid-is-back

and I have to say that I share the writer's excitement.  I'm on contract with one of the consulting firms, working with this project as the facilitator for a couple of their interactive design concept sessions.  My sense is that the tremendous expertise and the positive spirit of collaboration that I'm seeing in those sessions are going to translate into a truly great community design: green, walkable, liveable, transit-friendly.  It's exciting to be helping this process happen!

Our recent municipal election had me thinking ... what if we all behaved, all the time, as if we were running for election?  What if we all read up on the issues that affect us, formed evidence-based opinions, and discussed and debated them with each other?  What if we smiled at strangers on the street, hung out in front of the post office to shake hands and chat, and cuddled passing babies (only with permission and not the sticky ones)?  What if we all posted about every community event on Facebook, and we all volunteered for every community need?  What if we knocked on our neighbours' doors every now and then, just to say hello?

What an amazing community this would be, if we were all "running for election", all the time!

 

 

Hello everyone, and happy Thanksgiving!  My apologies again for missing the September 23 council meeting and the update that would have gone with it. 

ELECTION INFORMATION

My hearty congratulations and sincere thanks to everyone who decided to offer themselves as candidates for the municipal election!  It’s great to see a lively campaign going on.  Here’s a link to a summary of election information on the Town’s website:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?NID=900

and a few key reminders:
• October 15 at 7 pm at the BPL – the all-candidates’ forum.  Please say a special thank you to the Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association for organizing this important pre-election event – a great opportunity to find out more and to make up your mind about your choices.
• October 19, 10 am to 2 pm at Town Hall – advance voting.  Please take advantage of this if you have to be out of town on October 21.
• October 21, 10 am to 8 pm at Town Hall – voting day.  Let’s make this the biggest turnout ever!

COUNCIL MEETING ON TUESDAY

Because of the holiday weekend, Council meets on Tuesday at 2 pm.  You can see the entire agenda package at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/10152013-322

Here are a few highlights:

Homeowner delegation

Each house has a “curb stop” – the valve between the Town’s water system and the line serving the house.  You probably have seen it as a brass cap somewhere in your front lawn.  In 2010, Council passed a bylaw amendment, making the curb stop cap, stem and telescoping box the financial responsibility of homeowners.  A Banff homeowner is coming to Council to ask for a pro-rated bill for repairs to the curb stop serving his house, on the basis that his curb stop may have been already damaged at the time the Town handed over responsibility.  You can see his presentation starting on page 10 of the package, and administration’s report starting on page 17.  If you’re a homeowner, this is worth reading, as most of us don’t know what a curb stop is, where ours is, or that we are responsible for protecting it and making it readily accessible.

Municipal benchmarking initiative

For accountability and transparency, it’s hard to beat measurable benchmarks, clearly reported on each year.  For example, let’s take our roads operations.  The benchmark is “operating cost per lane/kilometre”.  If you look at this report
http://www.banff.ca/DocumentCenter/View/1409
and scroll down to page 64, you can see a chart showing how that cost has compared in the Town of Banff over three years, and also the comparable figures for other municipalities. 

Banff town manager Robert Earl has been a leading voice for this approach in Alberta, and is working with a group of Alberta municipalities to share benchmarking, best practices and clear comparisons.  In the report that starts on page 22 of the package, Council is being asked to approve the continuation of a budget that was set aside last year.  Bringing our share of between $10,000 and $20,000 to the table enables the benchmarking group to apply for a major provincial grant to support the project.  As the project becomes more complete and more widespread, taxpayers across the province will be getting clear information on how their money is spent, how the efficiency and effectiveness of their municipality compares to others, and whether improvements are resulting in better service and/or cost savings.

Regional Transit Commission 2014-2016 business plan and budgeting

Previous versions of the transit business plan were chunky and wordy.  This is a new, streamlined, more readable version, prepared with detailed input by commission members and administration staff from the partners, all of whom have been working with drafts of this document for some months.  You  can see the business plan starting on page 27 of the package.  In addition to the input provided by them during the document preparation, Banff administration has now asked for Banff Council to request quite a few more clarifications/additions to the document, as you will see in their report, starting on page 24 of the package.  It’s very important for all partners in the Commission to be entirely comfortable with the plan, so I’m sure the commission will be working diligently with this new input.

ALSO ON MY COUNCIL CALENDAR THIS WEEK

The Bow Valley Regional Transit Commission has its annual general meeting on Wednesday at 3:30 in Canmore council chambers.  This will be followed by the regular monthly meeting for October.

THE FINE PRINT

This is Issue 123 of my council update, and this will be the final issue.  Past issues can be seen as posts on my blog at www.lataylor.com/blog and I will leave those available online for the foreseeable future.  These updates have reflected my personal observations and opinions, and have never purported to be official communications from the Town of Banff or its Council.  As always, I welcome your comments and questions. 

SO LONG, AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FEEDBACK!

I would like to thank all of you for being part of my email list over the past six years.  I have appreciated your feedback on issues and your many encouraging comments on the communication effort itself.  It has been an honour and a pleasure to provide you with a summarized version of Council’s issues and activities, along with my opinions.  I hope these emails and blog posts have made it easier for you to be engaged citizens of our beautiful town.

With warm best wishes to you all  -- Leslie