Wow, what a bonus!  Having a weekend of “summer” at the end of September is really something!  I guess it makes up for those weekends of “winter” that we had in June. 

Welcome to new members to my email list!  Just a reminder to existing members – if you find these updates useful, take a moment to send an email to a few of your friends and suggest they join the list.  Growing the list really helps me to get the word out about what’s going on at council and opportunities to get involved.


Many thanks to everyone who volunteered for this group!  Here’s a list of the membership (alternates are people who step in when others are away):
• Public members: Scott McElhone, Marc Ledwidge, Patrick Roi, Allan Buckingham, and Elizabeth Hogg (alternate)
• Town of Banff Councillors: Brian Standish and Stavros Karlos;
• Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association: Gord Lozeman and Frank Denouden (alternate);
• Commercial landlord representative: Graeme Nunn and Ossi Treutler Jr. (alternate);
• Food and beverage industry representative: Nigel Walker and James Sachkiw (alternate);
• Retail industry representative: Suzannah Patmois and Bec Johnson (alternate);
• Municipal Planning Commission representative: David Bayne and Jay Harris (alternate)

The meetings are open to the public.  This 11-member committee is not dealing with the whole LUB.  They will make recommendations back to council on three very specific issues, as directed by council:
• A proposal to reduce the number of permitted uses for Grocery Store and Service Station properties in Banff.
• A proposal to enact distinct regulations for formula fast food businesses in Banff.
• Providing feedback to Council on required housing and parking for commercial development in Banff.
Everyone in town will have the opportunity to comment on the recommendations when they come back to council – there will be at least one public hearing on these items.


You can see the whole package at this link:


Construction waste diversion

Starting on page 3 of the package, you can see information about how construction waste in the Bow Valley is diverted from landfill, thanks to the work of the Bow Valley Regional Waste Management Commission. 

Skateboarding at night – have your say!

Council asked for a revised bylaw to come back for consideration.  The revisions would lift the ban on skateboards as a mode of transportation between 11 pm and 7 am.  Council is being asked to approve three readings tomorrow.  However, I have heard from several of you who would like to make presentations to council about late-night skateboarding, so I will be asking council to just give first reading at this meeting, and to wait until the next meeting to consider the bylaw further.  That will give you a chance to have your say at the October 10 meeting of council.  You can find the information about how to express your opinion to council at this link:  The most effective way to be heard is to get yourself on the meeting agenda as a “delegation” – that means you get to make a brief presentation to council before they consider the bylaw amendment.

2011 Municipal Census 

You’ll find the full report of this fascinating snapshot of our community, starting on page 28 of the package. If you’re like me, you’ll want to compare these numbers with those from the 2007 survey, which you can find at this link:


Here are just a few of the fascinating factoids (Banff By the Numbers!)

Total population:
2007:  8721
2011:  8244

Percentage of males:
2007:  49.57%
2011:  50.5%

Number of people who identify themselves primarily as homemakers:
2007:  125
2011:  93

Percentage of total population that is 19 or younger:
2007:  14.2%
2011:  17.8%

Number of retired people:
2007:  413
2011:  402

Percentage of people who walk or bike to work in summer:
2007:  55%
2011:  48.9%

Population numbers affect our ability to access some provincial grants.  And trends in census figures for housing, age groups, and so on, help the town and others plan for future needs of the community.

Illegal dumping

I know that many of you are as distressed as I am when you see the mess that some people leave beside our community waste containers.  The Town has tried hard to make it easy for people to get rid of unwanted and over-size items.  Every Friday, there is an over-size item pickup – all you have to do is book ahead at 403-762-1240.  Here’s the link with info about the program:


However, in spite of this effort, the illegal dumping problem continues to grow.  A report starting on page 66 of the package proposes some ideas for next steps we could take.  I’m inclined to try the intermediate solution (putting special pickup bins out once per week at problem locations) before we go to the recommended solution (an extra staff member and specially equipped truck to provide more door-to-door and roaming pickup).

The town’s website

A briefing report starting on page 71 of the package gives some interesting information about current use of the town’s website (600,000 unique visitors per year!) and some thoughts about what we should consider in updating the website.

Completion of the Recreation Centre project

Read this report, starting on page 75, to find out all the great things about this project:  the major items that were re-used, the ongoing energy and water efficiency, and the benefits to 40-mile Creek.  AND $1.6 million under budget, requiring less borrowing than was originally planned.  Many people worked very hard to make this project come out so well – huge kudos to all involved.  Pat them on the back next time you see them around town!


As always, this post presents my point of view only.  It does not purport to represent the opinions of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments or questions on any of the items!





Hello everyone:

What an amazing day!  Hope you all had a chance to get out and enjoy it!

Here are a few highlights of what’s going on with council ...


First thing Monday morning, I’ll be greeting our new transit manager, Koji Miyaji, as he arrives for his first day of work.  I’m delighted that the regional transit commission will have a staff member in place who can get working on the many items coming out of the commission’s business plan. 


Also on Monday morning, I’ll be joining the other councillors in a tour of the sewage treatment plant.  I’ve done this twice before and always found it very interesting – no, I’m not kidding!  If you’ve never had a tour of the plant, look for an opportunity – maybe you could go along when one of your kids is going on a school tour.  We’re very proud of the good quality of our effluent as it goes back into the Bow River.  As residents of the headwaters, all of us here in Banff have a special responsibility to everyone downstream, and we work hard to live up to it.


You can find the overall package for Monday’s meeting at this link:

Here are some of the key items that will be on the agenda.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts on any of these items:

Land Use Bylaw – appointing working group members

We’ve had a very good response to the request for volunteers for this committee.  Kudos to all of you who have volunteered!  At the Monday meeting, Council will appoint the members:
• four public members (+ one alternate public member);
• two Town of Banff Councillors;
• one Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association representative (+ one alternate member);
• one commercial landlord representative (+ one alternate member);
• one food and beverage industry representative (+ one alternate member);
• one retail industry representative (+ one alternate member);
• one Municipal Planning Commission representative
You can read the whole report starting on page 7 of the package.

Sewer mains condition report

Starting on page 19 of the package, you can read about the project to assess and document the condition of the town’s wastewater mains.  You’ll probably find page 23 of the package the most interesting part – that’s where you can see a map of what’s been assessed and whether those pipes are in very good, good, fair, poor, or very poor condition.  This is an excellent, clear representation of where we’re doing OK, and where we have problems.

Although the report states that the project is “on budget”, it also states that 60% of the originally intended work has been done, for almost 100% of the money budgeted.  That’s an unusual definition of “on budget”, and I’ll be asking about the disconnect.

Bike share system

You’ll recall that BCHS students did an excellent report to council, recommending that we consider introducing a bike share system in the Town of Banff – something like the Velib system in Paris or the Bixi Bikes in Montreal.  Council asked admin to look into this further, and you can see the report starting on page 25 of the package. There’s also a map on page 34 of the package, showing the 13 locations throughout Banff where rental bikes are already available.

While bike share sounds at first like a good fit for Banff, we might get a better bang for our buck by concentrating on making sure that visitors can find the existing rental locations, and that there are lots (and lots) of bike racks for people to use.  The one area that does not seem to be well-served is Tunnel Mountain (campgrounds and hotels), so perhaps a solution that focuses on that area would be a good idea.  Needless to say, any bike share system there would involve a lot of ferrying of bikes back up the hill.

Street banner policy

Council will be asked to look at a draft policy on street banners (the rectangular banners that hang on poles in the downtown and along St Julien).  The policy covers aspects such as design, length of hanging, how much area can be covered by the name and logo of a sponsor, fees, etc.  You can see the whole report starting on page 44 of the package.

I think this is a good first attempt, but I have some suggestions to make to council.  I will be asking that the references to national park and world heritage site values be returned to the draft policy (they are presently proposed for removal).  I also will be asking to diminish the area on banners that can be covered by commercial sponsor names and logos, and to tighten up the criteria for applying for a fee waiver.  Right now, almost everyone is covered by the categories shown on the waiver application.  There is a real cost to taxpayers every time we hang these banners, and waiving the fees makes it impossible to recover that cost.

Public art

Council will be asked to approve an $11K public art project to create three pieces of art that will hang outdoors for 6 months each.  Then a smaller indoor version of the same pieces will be framed and hung in the town’s permanent collection.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m distressed to see us spending our few public art dollars on temporary work, when the permanent sculptures are so well loved by residents and visitors alike.  I wonder whether this money could have been a “lead contribution” toward a fund to keep the bear at the Whyte Museum in Banff, for example.  I’m also concerned that the proposed hanging location (on the back of Town Hall, facing the alley) will be seen by relatively few people.  I will be asking whether a different, more prominent location could be considered.

Increases to Kids Kampus fees

Starting on page 62 of the package, a report details proposed increases to the fees for Kids Kampus, the program that provides activities for children in Grades 1 – 6 on days when school is not in session.  While I understand the need for the fee increase, I will be checking to ensure that we are communicating with the parents affected, and that they will receive reasonable warning of the increases.

WWTP Operation

Council will be briefed “in camera” on some items related to the operation of the wastewater treatment plant, because some of the information that will be shared is confidential business information belonging to EPCOR, our contractor.  Council does not make any decisions or pass any motions when it is “in camera”.  Any decisions resulting from this discussion will be made in a public meeting.


As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post does not purport to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or its Council. 

Hello everyone:
What a beautiful weekend!  It was fun to see the ``beach scene`` at Cascade Ponds and Johnson Lake yesterday.
Tomorrow, Council has three – count `em, three – meetings.  Highlights are below ...
You can see the full package for the finance committee meeting at this link:
Council will be looking at the second quarter financial results and the forecast to year-end.  The package shows a forecast $30K surplus at year-end.  It also shows a savings in the wages & benefits area of $274K, which is more than council had directed at budget time.  However, increased expenses in other areas have eaten up part of that extra saving.  You can see the full report starting on page 5 of the package.
At the finance meeting, council will also be looking at the recommendations for water and sewer rates over the next few years.  Our water and sewer services are self-funded utilities – that means that the fees you pay for water and sewer cover all the costs of operating the systems, plus the costs of maintaining and renewing the pipes, pumps, plant and so on.  This means that we have to look far ahead to ensure that our capital reserves will be there when a major piece of infrastructure needs replacing.  The report (which starts on page 35 of the package) shows that we`re doing OK on the water utility, but that we will be underfunded in future in the sewer utility.  In order to prevent a situation where the town suddenly has to come up with multi-millions, administration is recommending a 9% increase in sewer rates in 2011 and 2012, and then 9.58% per year from 2013 – 2021.  This will get us to the reserve levels that we need.  A steeper rate of increase was proposed earlier, but this new proposal spreads it out a bit, in response to feedback from the public.  I will be supporting this proposal – which will be no surprise, as I have always been vocal about ensuring that our capital reserves are at the level that they should be.
You can see the full package for the council meeting at: 
Here are some of the highlights ...
Land Use Bylaw working group
In response to feedback about the directions in Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw, council is putting together a working group to examine the potential economic impact of spot-zoning grocery stores and service stations, the potential economic impact of extra regulations for formula fast-food businesses, and the levels of parking and housing requirements that go with commercial development in the Town of Banff.  You can see the report about this, starting on page 11 of the package.
I think the working group is a good idea, although I will be suggesting some process changes in the wording of the terms of reference.  There are spaces for four members of the general public on this committee, and I hope you will consider putting your name forward.  These are issues that have generated a lot of heat in the town – now it`s time to shed some light, and you can be part of that.
Financial contribution to Legacy Trail extension
Council has been asked to commit $50K to the project to connect the Legacy Trail from the East Gate into Harvie Heights.  Canmore is being asked for the same amount, and the province has committed $200K.  I think most people have had a chance to see the safety issues going on right now as cyclists attempt to get from one trail to the other.  It would be great to see those fixed, and it has been a long haul attempting to persuade the province to allow this, so kudos to all those who hung in there and kept the pressure on.  I will be supporting this expenditure.
I am distressed to see that the MD of Bighorn council believes that this connection is ``not important to the businesses or residents of Harvie Heights``, and that the MD will therefore not contribute financially.  Gosh, I thought there were cyclists living in Harvie Heights, but apparently not.
You can see the full report, starting on page 29 of the package.
Skateboarding regulations
You have probably seen the flurry of discussion about skateboarding that has taken place lately, along with some pretty interesting assumptions about why we have skateboarding regulations.  This was prompted by council asking to see a history of the skateboarding regulations and enforcement in the town of Banff.  You can see that report starting on page 33 of the package.  It is possible that council will be looking at a request to lift the 11 pm to 7 am ban.
Starting on page 35, you can see a report about the current status of the skatepark, which was reopened in July after a major session of repair and maintenance.  Plans for the future will be part of the Banff Recreation Master Plan.
The final meeting of the day will be the BHC shareholders` meeting – you can see the entire package at this link:
After the last meeting, when council looked at a proposal for increasing the annual administration fees charged to BHC homeowners, there were some questions about further detail on the proposal.  The BHC board has provided answers to those questions (report starts on page 7 of the package) and now council, acting as the BHC shareholder, will once again be looking at the decision on whether to increase admin fees.
Al the best `til next time!  Leslie
Hello everyone:
I hope you’ve been enjoying the beautiful summer weather!  I apologize for the length of this email – go pour a nice iced tea, find a comfy chair where you can enjoy the sunset, and it won’t seem so bad.
You can see the overall package for the meeting at this link:
Council starts tomorrow at 12:30 pm.  This is earlier than usual, because we expect to have quite a long conversation about 27 proposals for the Land Use Bylaw.  All of these proposals are listed below (the titles are as written by the planning team).  Darren Enns will be presenting the team's findings and recommendations.  We will not be voting on whether to approve these – they’re not at that point yet.  Instead, we will be providing direction to the planning team about whether to continue to develop these various ideas.  Here’s how it will go ...
For 22 of the recommendations, we will be asked whether we want regulatory language created.  In other words – “Council, are you interested in this idea, and should we draft it up and bring it back to you for decision?”  If council’s answer is “yes”, then language would be created and debated and voted on at a future meeting. If "no", then that recommendation will no longer be considered.
The other five recommendations have been more controversial, with questions raised about their economic impacts.  We will be asked whether we want an economic impact review done on any of these 5 suggestions. If council says "yes", there will be a discussion on how that would look and that information would be provided at a future meeting. If council says, "no" then the mayor will ask if we want regulatory language created for that recommendation. If council’s answer is “yes”, then language would be created and debated and voted on at a future meeting. If "no", then that recommendation will no longer be considered.
Land Use Bylaw proposals
You can see background information on most of these proposals at  You can also see all the reports and feedback in the council package, starting on page 9 of the package and finishing on page 165.  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did!
Here are the 22 items where staff is recommending that we proceed to drafting regulatory language:
·         Removing Barriers Through Deferred Payments – this means providing an option for small, local start-ups to pay their parking and housing fees over time, rather than up front.  This helps to make it easier for small, local businesses to get started, and I’m in favour of drafting language on this.  A key will be finding clear, appropriate definitions for “small” and “local”!
        Building Bedrooms for Employees – this means changing the requirement so that when “required bedrooms” are supplied by businesses, they build apartment-style housing or basement suites or coach houses.  This way, the bedrooms actually become available for use by entry-level service workers, rather than being part of a large single-family home.  I’m in favour of drafting language on this.
        Preserving Banff’s Physical Character (business frontage limits) – this means limiting the street frontage of any one business to 50 feet or less, in order to keep the street lively and interesting.  I’m in favour of drafting language on this.
        Eating & Drinking Definitions – this means creating different definitions for bars, coffee shops, fine dining, fast food, so that they can be regulated differently.  I think this makes sens – they are very different uses, with very different impacts on the downtown.
        Downtown Liquor Stores – I haven’t yet seen what is proposed here, so will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
        Downtown Building Height – the proposal is to allow three storeys in the downtown, as long as the top storey is residential.  I agree that increased apartment-style residential in the downtown is a good idea.  I even think that three storeys on Banff Avenue is okay, because the street is so wide that you do not get that “canyon” effect.  I am concerned, however, about extending this to the 200 block of Bear Street.  Yes, I know that substantial parts of it are already three storeys.  But I think that a real canyon would be created if the whole street went that way.  I’m looking forward to a lively conversation on this one!
        Downtown Lane Standards – the idea here is to make the back lanes tidier and more appealing as places to walk and bike.  Those of you who have been here for a long time know that we’ve already made huge strides in this area (power line burial, for example!).  But I do support drafting language on this one – I think we can do better.
        Non-Conforming Sites -- I haven’t yet seen what is proposed here, so will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
        Re-Districting Government Lands in the Compound – the proposal here is to rezone Parks Canada’s and the Town of Banff’s lands in the compound to PS (public service), which is what they are.  It means that a bunch of commercial allocation would become available.  However, the proposal is that the freed-up allocation would be usable only in the compound – it couldn’t be used in the downtown or the hotel district.  I think I’m interested in looking at regulatory language on this one.  It might make it easier for people who want to provide locally oriented services in the compound.
        Exempting Fleet Servicing in the Compound – this is a proposal to allow fleet services developments to be exempt from the commercial allocation requirements.  The thinking is that companies have been unable to get commercial allocation to build fleet service buildings, so they’re doing their fleet servicing outdoors, with run-off into the storm sewers, and this is not good for the environment.  I’m interested in discussing this further.
        Housing Fees – at present, if a new business is required to build a bedroom, they can pay $21,000 “cash-in-lieu” instead.  The suggestion is that this doesn’t really reflect the current cost of providing a residential bedroom in Banff, and we need to discuss the level of the fees.  I agree that we should have this discussion.
        Linking Intensification “Bedrooms” to Specific Housing Types – this is once again about changing the requirement so that when “required bedrooms” are supplied by businesses, they build apartment-style housing or basement suites or coach houses.  “Intensification” refers to a business deciding to be open longer than normal (for example, 24 hours rather than 14), and therefore needing more employees, who need more housing.  I think we will need careful attention to definitions here.
        Redirection of Parking Fees to Transit – the suggestion is that money paid to cover required parking could be used to enhance transit or provide more bike racks as well as to build parking stalls.  I agree that we should look at language on this.
        Extended Operating Hours as Intensification  --  as mentioned above, this refers to a business deciding to be open longer than normal (for example, 24 hours rather than 14), and therefore placing greater demands on town services such as waste collection.  I think we will need careful attention to definitions here.
        Signage Enforcement – for some reason, we are being asked whether we want the existing land use bylaw regulations about signs to be enforced.  I certainly do!  The suggestion is that this should be preceded by a brief education campaign, because we have been light on enforcement for a while now, and some people may have forgotten what the regulations are.
        External Retailing – this is the same situation as the signage enforcement – education, followed by enforcing the regulations that already exist.  I’m all for it!
        CA District Freestanding Signs – at present, although the size of individual signs in the hotel area is regulated, there is no regulation of how many signs can be erected in one business’s frontage.  The suggestion is that this has resulted in a confusing proliferation of freestanding signs along the 400 and 500 blocks of Banff Avenue.  I agree that we should look at regulatory language on this.
        Graphic Signage Regulations – this is a suggestion that signage regulations should be presented visually, through drawings, not just in a text-only format.  I think this would make the regulations easier to understand, and agree that we should give it a try.
        Awning Type Regulations – this would prohibit the underlit “bubble-style”, while allowing more traditional-shaped awnings.  I think this is reasonable, and we should take a look at wording.
        Bed & Breakfast Buffering – at present, bed and breakfasts are only supposed to be allowed if they are 75 m or more from the nearest other B&B.  In practice, however, this requirement has been relaxed on almost every B&B application.  The suggestion is to lower the buffer to 30 m, or even do away with it altogether.  I think I can support 30 m, but only if we start actually applying this regulation, rather than relaxing it almost every time an application comes in.
        Bed & Breakfast Quality Standards – the planning team had proposed some basic quality standards for B&Bs (no B&B rooms in the basement, bedrooms must have a window, etc etc).  The Banff B&B association has commented that these standards would be duplication, because B&Bs that are accredited by the Alberta association must have regular quality inspections.  But wait a minute – only 16 of our 49 B&Bs belong to that association, so how will quality be guaranteed in the others?  I’d suggest that we either introduce the quality requirements, or require all B&Bs to be accredited by the Alberta association.  I look forward to a lively discussion on this tomorrow.
        Home Occupations – I haven’t yet seen what is proposed here, so will have to wait until tomorrow to find out.  Since I have a home occupation, I’m naturally curious.  I will have to ask to make sure that I don’t have a conflict of interest, however, before entering into the discussion.
Then there are the five other items, the ones that have been more controversial.  These are:
·         Preserving grocery resources – the planning team points out how disastrous it would be for our community if – at some time in the future -- our two existing supermarkets ended up being converted into some more profitable use.  The suggestion is that their zoning be changed so that “grocery store” is the only permitted use, with all other uses discretionary.  That means that any such conversion proposed in the future would have to be reviewed publicly by the MPC.  I’m not sure that this is the right approach, but I’m interested enough in it that I would like to see us review other communities where this type of zoning has been done, to see what the impact was.
·         Protecting fuelling services – this is a similar suggestion to the grocery store proposal above.  The idea is that gas stations are critical, and perhaps we should try to prevent the ones that are presently located in the hotel district from eventually being turned into hotels, or at least require a public review before that can happen. 
·         Formula fast food – the suggestion is that any *new* formula fast food establishments could not be placed in street-front locations, but would have to go to interior locations in malls.  One question in my mind is whether we have a problem at present, or a problem that is likely to develop in the life of the plan.  I’d like to see a comparison of the number of formula fast food restaurants in Banff now to 10 years ago.  KFC, Wendy’s, A&W have all come and gone.  I’m very concerned about ensuring that such businesses conform to our signage and architectural requirements, that they meet housing requirements, that they adhere to our waste standards.  I’m just not so sure that formula fast food restaurants are present in such numbers that they cause us a problem.  And what if the “formula” is a Canadian one (Beavertails, Cows) – does that lessen the concern?
·         Souvenir and gift shop regulations – the suggestion is that we define souvenir shops as follows:  “Retail Store, Souvenir means a retail store offering a variety of small gift items related to a particular topic or theme, which typically includes coffee mugs, stuffed animals, t-shirts, postcards, hats, refrigerator magnets, miniature figures, and typically indicate their origin such as "Canadian Rockies" or "Banff". A Retail Store, Souvenir is intended primarily for the travelling public as opposed to residents.” And that we then make this a discretionary use in the downtown, so that any new proposal for a souvenir shop would have to be reviewed by the MPC.   I think this could be a real mine-field.  Many stores open with a distinctive concept, then slowly start selling T-shirts, mugs, etc over time.  This means that we wouldn’t just have to regulate at time of development, we’d have to be continually checking whether the merchandise has remained as originally promised.  I don’t know if I’m ready to support this degree of central economic planning (and enforcement!).  However, I am sensitive to the rain of comments about tackiness and commercialization, so I think I would be interested in any information the planners can provide about how this has (or hasn’t) worked in other communities.
·         Commercial development allotments, merit-based review – the idea here is that the small amount of remaining commercial allotment, and any transfers of allotment from one business to another, would be reviewed and approved based on their merit in areas such as architecture, public washrooms and spaces provided, environmental standards, and so on.  I would support this only if we can make the merit points transparent and objective, rather than conceptual and subjective.  I think that people should be able to tell in advance whether their development is going to meet the requirements.
Pedestrian Bridge/Sanitary sewer siphon
Astonishingly, there is one other item on Monday’s agenda.  I’ve mentioned before the exciting proposal to replace our aged sewer line across the Bow by tying it into a new pedestrian bridge from Muskrat over to Spray.  We now have more detailed estimates and information (starting on page 166 of the package), and council is being asked to choose which option we would prefer for the sewer line.
We can do it more cheaply by slinging the line under the existing bridge.  But we can get a pedestrian bridge out of this project for $400,000, as compared to the previous $2 million estimate for a ped bridge alone, and the ped bridge plus sewer line is estimated at less than what we have in the budget for the project.  I think this is a great option, and I want to support it, but have a couple of questions to ask:
1.        How sure are we of the estimates?  There have been a couple of situations in the past where council has agreed to a project, basing their decision on estimates provided, only to find that the estimates were incorrect.
2.       Will this ped bridge support emergency vehicles?  This was stated earlier on, but I don’t see it mentioned in the current report.
As always, opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  I do not pretend to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or its council.  I welcome your comments!
All the best until next time -- Leslie