Hello everyone:

It was great to see so many people at Connect 2013 the other day.  Thank you so much for coming out and having your say!  I loved the idea of having all sorts of information and input opportunities in one place at one time, and I hope that this will become an annual event.  I think the only improvement I could suggest would be to consider having a supervised “play and pizza” room for young kids to make it easier for parents to attend.

COUNCIL TOMORROW

Council meets on Monday at 2 pm, and – as always – we would be delighted to see you there!  If you’re thinking that you might be running for council in the fall, it’s time to start attending a few meetings to get a feeling for the issues and the format.  If you’re not thinking about running, you’re still very welcome.  Remember, during every agenda there are two question periods in which people in the gallery can ask questions about the day’s agenda items.

You can see the whole agenda package for the meeting at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/03252013-273

Here are a few highlights:

Banff Ideas Bank

Kim Bater will be presenting the 50 best ideas from 2012.  You can see them starting on page 5 of the package – take a read, they’re inspiring!

Bylaw on Transferability of Commercial Development Allotments

As you know, we have a commercial growth cap here in Banff.  Every so often, a lottery is held to give potential developers a crack at some square footage that will allow them to do their development.  Right now, unused Commercial Development Allotments (CDAs) expire after five years, returning to the Town’s “kitty”.  Meanwhile, there are developers who have part of the square footage they need for their proposed building, but no way (other than the lottery) to acquire more.  The proposed bylaw would allow CDAs to be transferred from a developer who is not going to use them to one who will.  This bylaw is in front of council for First Reading.  Voting for First Reading does not mean that you support the bylaw, it simply gets the bylaw on the table for a public hearing (probably in late April) and further discussion.

You can see the report and the proposed bylaw starting on page 21 of the package.

Bylaw on Transferability of commercial gross floor area

The transfer of CDAs is a transfer of potential, un-built space.  This bylaw proposes transferability of previously built space.  So, for example, if commercial space is demolished, or if a building that was commercial is taken over for non-commercial purposes (a government office, let’s say), then this bylaw proposes that the commercial space represented by that building should be available for transfer to another site.  Just like the other, this bylaw is in front of council for First Reading.  Voting for First Reading does not mean that you support the bylaw, it simply gets the bylaw on the table for a public hearing and further discussion.

You can see the report and the proposed bylaw starting on page 27 of the package.

Closing retail doors in winter

This report (starting on page 37 of the package) asks Council to provide direction on the question of businesses leaving their doors open in the winter. Council gets comments from time to time about this environmentally unfriendly practice, and about how it affects our image as a town in a national park. The difficulty, of course, is that people who have worked in retail (I’ve asked quite a few now) agree that an open door brings noticeably more people in off the sidewalk. Weird, but true.  Another difficulty is that many retailers believe that the “air curtains” that they use at their doors result in an energy regime equal to having a closed door.  We’re having trouble understanding this, as it appears that the “air curtains” themselves must take up substantial energy to maintain.  However, it’s been difficult to ascertain the facts, until now.  This report proposes that we do an experiment with air curtains at our own public washrooms, where we have control over the doors and good, solid stats on energy use long-term.  You can see the report starting on page 37 of the package.

I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with this experiment.  After all, if what seems likely to be true actually is true, and air curtain plus open door still equals lots more energy use than closed door, then we will have used extra energy in order to prove that energy is being wasted.  And even if we have irrefutable proof at the end of our experiment, it’s not likely that that proof will lead to a massive wish for closed doors among the retail community.  I’m ready to listen to the discussion tomorrow, but I’m inclined to suggest that we should just go to work on what would be a reasonable temperature range for a closed-door bylaw.  However, the main difficulty would be the need for enforcement, as allowing a few businesses to flout the bylaw while everyone else complies would put them at a competitive advantage, and we would be creating an unfair situation.

Appointment of committee on council compensation

Ten kind-hearted, public-minded folks have stepped forward to volunteer for this committee, and council will be appointing five of them tomorrow.  Thank you so much to every person who volunteered!  You can see the report on page 39 of the package.

OTHER ITEMS ON MY COUNCIL CALENDAR THIS WEEK

On Monday, we will be meeting with S.Sgt. Brunner of the Banff RCMP to learn about crime statistics and to discuss the policing plan and priorities for the coming year.  On Wednesday, I will be attending the first meeting of the Community Housing Strategy committee – a new committee to bring together some of the major players in housing in Banff, focus our efforts and look for duplications and gaps.

Best wishes until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

The pussy-willows are out along the Vermilion Lakes Road!  Can the Canada geese be far behind?  I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy this beautiful weekend.

HAVE YOUR SAY

Several opportunities for public input are available right now.  You can see them all on this page:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?NID=513

... and here are the highlights:

Connect 2013

Just a reminder about this open house at the Rec Centre on March 14.  There will be lots of information and an opportunity to have your say on several major projects, including the Transportation Master Plan and Cave Avenue.  If you miss this, there will be online information and surveys available after March 14, but I think you’ll find the face-to-face opportunity more interesting and engaging.

Council compensation review committee

I see that the deadline for applying has been moved to March 20.  That often means that too few volunteers have come forward.  I hope that some of you will think about volunteering for this committee.  Council compensation will be one factor that will contribute to people’s decisions about whether to run next fall, and the committee is just a short-term commitment.  This is your chance to have direct input to this important discussion.

Economic prosperity

As you know, the town is working on an economic prosperity strategy.  Step 1 is to ensure that we have a definition of economic prosperity that is meaningful for everyone.  You can have input into this definition by going to the page I’ve linked above, and doing the online survey that shows at the bottom of that page.  I hope you will take the time – about 10 minutes – to fill this out!

COUNCIL ON MONDAY

Council’s meeting looks brief this week.  As always, you are very welcome to attend, and there will be two opportunities during the meeting to ask any questions related to the agenda.  You can see the whole package at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/03112013-270

There are two key items:

Voting on the formula business quota bylaw

This is the vote that was delayed from the February 25 meeting.  You’ll recall that I discussed it in my last council email update, so I won’t repeat all that here.  You can see the relevant material in the agenda package, starting on page 9.

Update on changes to the elections act

As you’ll recall, the municipal election will be held this October.  I do hope you’re considering running for council!  If you are, you’ll want to pay close attention to the briefing that starts on page 39 of the package.  Some examples of the changes include:
• Council terms change from three years to four years
• Candidates who haven’t provided their required financial disclosures from the last campaign will be barred from running in the next one
• Voters will have to have approved ID when they show up at the polls.  A driver’s licence with a Banff address on it will be a good thing to bring along. 

OTHER ITEMS ON MY COUNCIL CALENDAR THIS WEEK

Bow Valley Regional Transit will have its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday afternoon, and a strategic planning meeting all day on Friday.  Banff and Canmore councils and the School Board will be meeting informally on Wednesday evening – we like to keep channels of communication open.  I’ll be interested to chat with School Board members about the suggestion to shrink the number of trustees.

THE FINE PRINT

As always, this post presents only my personal point of view.  It is not an official communication from the Town of Banff or its council.  I welcome your questions or comments!

All the best until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY

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:

http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/266/2013_02_25_Council_Agenda.pdf

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.

GOOD NEWS FROM ROAM’S BANFF-CANMORE TRANSIT ROUTE

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.

THE FINE PRINT

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.

WORKING WITH CANMORE

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 MEETING ON MONDAY

Council’s meeting on Monday looks as if it will be brief.  You can see the whole package at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/262/2013_02_11_Council_Agenda.pdf

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.

MONDAY BHC SHAREHOLDER MEETING

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:
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/261/2013_02_11_Shareholder_Agenda.pdf

ALSO ON MY COUNCIL CALENDAR THIS WEEK

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.

THE FINE PRINT

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
 

Hello everyone:

I must apologize off the top, as I’m having my knee fixed on Monday, and therefore will not be at council.  However, this council update will give you an idea of what’s coming up, and I will try to be back in action as soon as possible!

HAVE YOUR SAY – FORMULA BUSINESSES

On Thursday afternoon (January 31) at 2 p.m., Council will be holding the public hearing for Bylaw 314 (Banff Land Use Bylaw Amendment – Land Use Bylaw Review Phase 2(b); Formula Business).  This is the bylaw amendment that would put a cap on the number of formula-based restaurants and retail outlets in Banff.  The public hearing is the opportunity for Council to hear input on the bylaw.  Voting on the bylaw will take place at a later date.

You can see the whole package for the public hearing at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/258/2013_01_31_Public_Hearing_Agenda.pdf

And you can see some FAQs about the bylaw at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?nid=753

The package shows you who is scheduled to speak and who has provided written submissions so far.  You can speak at the public hearing by letting the municipal clerk know at the meeting that you wish to speak.  You can also hand in written submissions before the end of the hearing.  However, if you know you want to speak, or you know you want to hand in a written submission, consider providing your information to the municipal clerk sooner – it helps to simplify matters on the hearing day if she has things in advance.  You can reach the municipal clerk at municipal.clerk@banff.ca

The question of formula-based businesses has been a hot one in town for some years, with some people passionately supporting a quota, as is proposed in this bylaw, and others passionately opposed to this degree of intervention in the free market.  As is required by law, I’m going into this public hearing with an open mind, ready to hear every viewpoint and to consider what I’ve learned when this eventually comes to a vote at a later meeting.

WHO KNEW?

I learn something new from other Banffites every day, and yesterday’s learning was thanks to an alert citizen letting me know about a town discount.  If you are 65 or over, and your name is on the title of the Banff home in which you live, you can apply for a seniors’ discount on your utility bill.  Ask at Town Hall front desk for an application! 

If you look verrrrry carefully, you can find a reference to this discount on this page of the Town’s website:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?NID=359

MONDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING

You can see the whole package for Monday’s council meeting at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/256/2013_01_28_Council_Agenda.pdf

There are several sets of minutes for review, but only two reports requiring Council decisions.  These are about:

One-day business licensing

As you may remember, Council has been asked by out-of-town photographers to come up with a business licence fee that is aimed at their short-term type of work.  If they come to Banff once or twice a year to shoot weddings, they now have the choice of buying a monthly non-resident license for $280, or a yearly non-resident licence at $748.  The proposal before Council is to offer a daily option at $185.  So if you are an out-of-town photographer who shoots four or more weddings in Banff each year, the annual licence is your best option.  If you shoot many weddings, but just in July and August, two monthly licences might be your best bet, and so on.  The idea is that compliance might be increased if people had more choices, but staff questions whether that will actually be the case (and I think they are probably right, unless we are able to dedicate substantial enforcement time to this!).  You can read the full report, starting on page 42 of the package.

Snow and Ice Management

Starting on page 44 of the package, you can learn all about how snow and ice ploughing, shovelling and removal are managed in the town.  Council is being asked to consider several possible changes to the policy, including (among others):
• Simplifying the references to timing for different zones down to “within 24 hours”, “within 48 hours” and so on
• Noting the factors that lead to snow removal, such as narrowing of roads, visibility at intersections
• Making downtown alleys a high priority for clearing, because of their importance for deliveries and for pedestrian use
• Making school bus routes a high priority, regardless of location
• Doing a trial with a “washed rock” gravel product, to cut down on dust in the spring
This report includes the map of snow clearing priority zones.  Take a look to see how your block is prioritized on page 62 of the package.

THE FINE PRINT

As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post is not an official communication of the Town of Banff or of its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions, and I’m always happy to have new folks join my email distribution list.  If you’re inundated with email and you want to be removed from the list, I will comply with regret but without whining.

All the best until next time -- Leslie