Hello everyone:

I’m sure you’re all in the midst of Christmas parties and preparations, but you may find yourselves with a few moments to catch up on what’s going on at Council.  We’ve been incredibly busy with budget meetings and the launch of the Banff-Canmore regional transit, but I think we are nearly through this stretch.  Here are a few of the things you might want to know about ...

BUDGET MEETING MONDAY

Council will meet to discuss the capital and operating budgets, starting tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.  You’re very welcome to attend!  We’ve been through both budgets once, and I think it is likely that we will pass the budgets tomorrow – although it’s not over ‘til it’s over.  You can see the “budget tracker” at this link:

http://www.banff.ca/DocumentCenter/View/912

The budget tracker attempts to summarize all the factors that have contributed to our present point on the operating budget.  If all stays as is, we will pass an operating budget tomorrow that will result in approximately a 1.71% increase on the average Banffite’s overall property taxes.  However, that figure alone is not the whole story, because (as you keen readers will remember!) we are still in the process of phasing the garbage/recycling utility out of taxes and into a utility fee.  So your utility fee will go up this year – and, for continued transparency, the budget tracker shows you the whole story, with the utility changes. 

What does all this mean in real terms?  The estimated impact on the average Banff residence is $10.34 per month, including both the tax increase and the waste utility phase-in.

I’m also pleased to report that the budget, within that 1.71% tax increase, allows for increasing our contribution to capital reserves.  I know that I tend to go on and on about this, but it is so important for a municipality to save appropriately for the future replacement of infrastructure.  You hear a lot about Canada’s “infrastructure deficit”.  Here in Banff, our community has been prudent about dealing with that.

You can see the whole agenda package for this budget meeting at this link:
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/246/2012_12_10_Council_Agenda_Budget.pdf

COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY

Council will meet at 2 pm on Monday, and you are more than welcome to attend.  There are two times in the agenda when you are welcome to ask questions about items on the day’s agenda.  You can see the whole agenda package at this link:

http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/245/2012_12_10_Council_Agenda.pdf

Highlights from tomorrow’s meeting include:

Shine and Banff Community Foundation presentations

Lorraine Widmer-Carson, the ED of the Banff Community Foundation, will be presenting information to council about the successful Shine 2012 event and future plans for Shine.  As well, she will present the Foundation’s Report to the Community.  It’s always exciting to see the good work that the Foundation is doing.  You can see the written background for Lorraine’s presentations starting on page 4 of the package.

Suggestion for a binding referendum on formula franchise outlets

Daren Krentz will be presenting this suggestion and a suggested question.  You can see his written backgrounder starting on page 20 of the package.

A bylaw regarding taxation of student dormitories

What parts of The Banff Centre should and should not be paying property taxes has been a topic of discussion in the community for a long time.  Not long ago, the province and our assessor suggested that we should be taking a closer look at this.  As a result, Town staff and the Banff Centre have had some discussions about various approaches. You can see the report, starting on page 31 of the package. The proposed bylaw would result in the Town taxing student “dormitories”.  (apparently that’s the expression that’s used – I don’t really think of the student accommodation at the Centre as “dormitories”!)  I’m interested in whether there are other “student dormitories” in town that would be affected – or whether they are already paying taxes.  Also, because The Banff Centre representative was unable to attend the last time Council discussed this, I’d like to just pass first reading, to ensure they have appropriate time to react and to speak to Council.

Contracting out water/sewer/stormwater utility – a proposal

As you keen readers will recall, the Town contracts out the running of the wastewater treatment plant to Epcor.  Wastewater treatment has been done by contractors since the Town’s incorporation in 1990.

Starting on page 34 of the package, you’ll see a report asking whether Council would like to see a price for contracting out water, sewer and storm sewer as an entire package, so that we can compare that price to in-house costs.  Saying yes tomorrow would not mean that we are going to contract.  It would just mean that we’d like town staff and Epcor to discuss pricing, so that we would know whether it would be a better option.  The Town would remain the owner of the systems – this would just be one means of operating them.

One problem that this could possibly help us with is attracting and retaining certified staff.  Provincial regulations require us to have people with certain levels of certification.  There are few of these people in the province and they are in high demand.  It’s hard for small municipalities to hold onto them.  It’s somewhat easier for a larger operator, such as Epcor, which can offer promotion potential and can share operators among more than one job site.

I’m inclined to agree that we should look into this.

Commercial allotment allocation

You will recall that a commercial growth cap of 350,000 additional square feet was established in 1998.  Since then, 197,819 sq ft have been built, 119,060 sq ft have been allocated but not yet built, and 33,121 sq ft remain to be allocated by the Town.  Space that has been allocated and not built expires after five years, so some of that may eventually come back to the town.  You can see the entire report, starting on page 42 of the package.

Council is being asked to make the remaining space available for a lottery-style allocation in 2013.  I’m a little baffled by this, as I had understood that we were awaiting recommendations from the planners about ways to ensure that the final space allocations meet the most pressing needs of the community.  I will be asking about this before voting.

Banffparking.ca

Council will be given an update on the progress of the Smart Parking project, which aims to make it possible for visitors to use their mobile devices to find available parking stalls on busy days.  I think this is a great way to diminish visitor irritation and to ensure that we are using what parking we have effectively.  Read all about it, starting on page 46 of the package.

OTHER ITEMS ON THIS COUNCILLOR’S AGENDA THIS WEEK

Bow Valley Transit

The transit commission will meet on Wednesday afternoon.  I look forward to our re-cap of the Banff-Canmore launch.  I rode the service on its first day of operation and enjoyed the experience very much!

Meeting with Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Council has its annual meeting with BLLT on Wednesday>  The Mayor represents us on the BLLT board, but it’s always good to have an update that everyone attends.

THE FINE PRINT

As always, this email presents only my point of view.  It does not purport to be an official communication of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your questions and comments, and I welcome new subscribers!

All the best until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

Just a month until Christmas!  But it’s one of the busiest months on Council’s calendar, with all the work on the budget ...

BUDGET MEETING MONDAY

Council meets tomorrow morning from 9 am to noon to start digging into the budget, page by page.  All budget meetings are public, and you are very welcome to attend.  A special note to those of you who are starting to think that you might like to run for council in 2013:  understanding the budget is key to understanding what new ideas you might like to bring to the table at election time!

We have already had one budget meeting, at which we received a large number of requests for funding assistance from external groups who are doing good work in our community, such as STARS, the SPCA, and so on – totalling over half a million dollars.  You can see all those requests at this link: 
http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/232/2012_11_19_Council_Agenda_Budget.pdf
Unfortunately, the requests total quite a bit more than we have in the budget, so council will have to review all of these during the budget process, and decide how much the community can afford to fund.

The order of departments coming to council is now changed each year, which is a very good approach, as council members have the most energy at the beginning of the process.  Last year, we started with the capital budget, then went to operating, commencing with Legislative.  This year, we’re starting with operating budget, and with “Other” (miscellaneous items such as the tourism marketing contract, town-owned lands, etc.), which has come in at the end in the past.  As the budget process goes along, you can see all the documents and the updates at this page:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?nid=347

As always, council is aiming for a budget that is at or below inflation for the services that are already in place.  New services are funded by either cuts to existing service budgets, or tax increases, or an outside source of funding or revenue.  You can see an entire report on “New Initiatives” at the link for the budget process.  These are items that administration is asking Council to consider as possible additions to our present services.  Council will consider, debate and vote on new initiatives that any councillors want to bring forward.

Throughout the budget process, the “Budget Tracker” document, which you can see at the link above, will show council and the whole community the tax implications of any deletions or additions.  This is a moving target, because any item can be reconsidered.  So, for example, Council might add a new program at the beginning, but realize by the end of the process that the tax rate is looking unacceptable, and then go back and modify or delete that program.

The Town of Banff publishes a rolling three-year budget, so we’re now working on a budget that predicts revenues and expenses for 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Naturally, the budget for the coming year gets the most attention, as the most factors are known.  But the additional two years are an attempt to predict where we think revenues and expenses will rise or fall.

COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY

The regular council meeting starts at 2 pm in Council Chambers.  You can see the entire agenda package at this link:

http://www.banff.ca/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/238/2012_11_26_Council_Agenda_Severed.pdf

Here are a few key items from the agenda:

Banff Volunteer Centre

The Banff Volunteer Centre has provided a letter (starting on page 4 of the package) that describes their reasons for ceasing operations.  The Town of Banff has been the only consistent funder through the 15 years of the Centre’s operations, although other sources have contributed at various times.  The Board feels that the inability to find long-term, consistent operations revenue makes it impossible for them to continue.

BanffMaps.ca

A report, starting on page 40 of the package, describes this new publicly accessible portal for interactive maps and applications.  This was entirely internally created – no consultants.  There is a lot of good stuff on this site!  I will be asking why some of it requires Flash, and is therefore inaccessible from iPads.

Cave Avenue redevelopment

Many thanks to the many people who provided feedback on the Cave Avenue final design.  You can see the report, and the public comments, starting on page 42 of the package.  As you’ll see, some people are delighted with the design as presented, some feel it’s too wide, some would prefer angle parking, some would like speed bumps, and so on.

Council is being asked whether they would like to go ahead with the project as designed, or go through one more round of public engagement and re-design, which would put construction into 2014.  I will be asking whether there is another option, i.e. to incorporate some of the key concepts from the input we’ve just received, re-design, and go ahead with construction in 2013.  But that may not be practical, especially since the public feedback is all over the map, and it would be hard to be sure we had found the right threads to pursue.

I know (believe me, I know!) that many Cave Avenue residents want to get this construction done in 2013.  But if we cannot do a re-design and go ahead, then I will be supporting the 2014 option.  I believe that a re-design is needed, and I don’t want to go ahead with the existing design.  After all, it’s pretty much irreversible once built.  That’s my personal position – the majority of council may feel very differently.

Banff Centre Assessment

Starting on page 60 of the package, Council is being asked to approve the drafting of a bylaw to tax student residences at the Banff Centre.  There’s a long history behind this discussion, but basically, we would stop taxing the Professional Development Centre, and instead begin taxing part or all of the student residences.  Town staff and the Banff Centre have been discussing this issue for some time.  It’s all related to what parts of post-secondary institutions are and aren’t taxable, under provincial legislation.  I think we should draft this bylaw, but when we eventually come to the final decision, I am undecided as to whether we should tax all of the residences or just part of the residences, so I will be listening closely to the discussion as this goes forward.

Skateboard helmet bylaws

Council asked staff to research what is done about skateboard helmets in other jurisdictions, and whether we can regulate them here.  In the report that starts on page 85 of the package, you’ll see the answers:  not a lot, and yes.  Although I really wish that every skateboarder would wear a helmet, I’m not sure that we have the enforcement capacity to follow this up, so I personally will not be pursuing it further.

BANFF-CANMORE BUS SERVICE

Roam will start operating the regional Banff-Canmore route on December 3.  You can read all about it here:
http://roamtransit.com/services/canmore-banff-regional

If you believe that public transit is important, please support Roam by riding the service and by encouraging others to join you!

MY BANFF.CA

The Town of Banff website can be customized for your personal use.  By setting up a profile, you can have the items that are most important to you at your fingertips.  For a limited time, setting up your My Banff.ca profile also gives you a chance at winning an iPad, iPod Touch, or a certificate for community classes.  Go to www.banff.ca, click on any of the tabs across the top, and then on the MY Banff.ca icon on the right side to set up your profile.

ALSO ON THIS COUNCILLOR’S AGENDA ...

This week, Council has another budget meeting on Wednesday morning from 9 to noon.  Development Appeal Board meets on Thursday at 9 a.m.

THE FINE PRINT

As always, this post reflects my personal opinions.  It does not purport to be an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions, and I’m always delighted to add new subscribers to this list!

Until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

What a privilege it was to attend the Remembrance Day service and wreath-laying today.  It was great to see how many Banffites, young and old, wanted to participate.  Hats off to the organizers, who worked hard to make this solemn occasion meaningful for everyone.

Because of Remembrance Day, Council will have its regular meeting on Tuesday instead of Monday.

TUESDAY COUNCIL MEETING

You can see the entire package for the meeting at this link:
http://ab-banff.civicplus.com/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/228/2012_11_13_Council_Agenda.pdf

Council’s agenda is fairly light on Tuesday.  The meeting starts at 2 pm, and you are very welcome to attend!  Here are the highlights:

Compensation review

Council has set a compensation policy that says that we will pay our staff at the 50th percentile for the work they do, compared to the market.  Every now and then, we need to review the external market to see whether we are living up to that policy.  This year, we did one of those reviews, comparing our pay levels to those of other municipalities, to those of other public agencies in the Bow Valley, and (where applicable) to those of private employers in the Bow Valley.

You can see the report about the results, starting on page 11 of the package.  I’m pleased to discover that we’re not looking at any big adjustments, and that 79% of our staff are already paid either at our goal level, or just above or below.  The report also notes that our pay system has become unnecessarily complicated, with 57 different pay grids, and recommends that we collapse similar positions into shared pay grids, taking this number down from 57 to 20.  It also recommends that we work with our province-wide pension provider to provide a range of different options for retirement savings – we now have just one option, a defined benefit program.

I believe that working with the recommendations in this report will take us to a less complicated and more transparent pay system at the Town.

The report also repeats the recommendation that Council has already approved:  to have a public committee examine council/mayor pay levels and make recommendations for the future.

Get Out Banff

Our FCSS group has been successful in getting a provincial grant to work on decreasing indoor and “screen” time and increasing outdoor time among Banffites, especially children.  Their report, starting on page 17 of the package, tells us about this new program, and reminds us that this is a goal we can all contribute to.

Banff.ca redevelopment

As I’ve mentioned before, the town’s communications staff won a contest for a free website makeover, cleverly saving the taxpayers around $30,000.  The new website is running, and new capabilities are being honed and tweaked.  Among other things, you can create your own “dashboard” now, so that the parts of the Town site that matter most to you will be front and centre when you log in.  As well, when the search function is fully operational, you’ll be able to search past agenda packages, something we have not had before.  Read all about it starting on page 19 of the package.

ALSO ON TUESDAY

Finance Committee

Starting at 10 am on Tuesday, Council meets as the Finance Committee.  This is a public meeting, and all are welcome.  You can see the full agenda at this link:
http://ab-banff.civicplus.com/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/227/2012_11_13_Finance_Agenda.pdf

A few highlights:

Pre-audit planning:  council will have a brief “in camera” meeting with the auditors.  This is done each year before the audit process starts, to ensure that every item thee auditors should consider has been mentioned to them.

Tangible capital asset policy:  as we have worked our way through the town’s financial reserves, we’ve had a lot of discussion about the reasonable expected lifespan for various capital assets (buildings, vehicles, heavy machinery, roadbeds, etc etc).  You can see the results summarized in a report, starting on page 4 of the package.

Operating reserves:  this report (starting on page 18 of the package) summarizes the levels of the town’s operating reserves, and recommends that we cap the “budget stabilization reserve” at 2% of total expenses.  This reserve is used when we are faced with one-time unforeseen expenses.  I agree with the 2% recommendation.

Third-quarter financial statements and year-end forecast:  As you’ll see in the report, starting on page 21 of the package, lower-than-expected revenues in several areas have contributed to a small deficit being forecast at year-end.   For example, low commodity prices have caused us to miss the mark on recycling revenues by $70,000.   The projected year-end deficit is in spite of good savings from the “hiring squeeze” – the town’s practice of carefully considering and sometimes delaying replacement hires.  Council is being asked to transfer $39,000 from the budget stabilization reserve to cover this deficit.

BHC shareholder meeting

On September 24, council (acting as the BHC shareholder) held a public meeting on the recommendation to change some of the user fees charged to BHC homeowners, for example, the fee paid when a homeowner sells his/her BHC home through the registered resale list.  This public meeting resulted in a range of questions that council asked the BHC board to respond to. 

At 3 pm on Tuesday, the BHC Shareholder will meet to look at the responses from the BHC board.  You can see the entire package for the meeting at this link:
http://ab-banff.civicplus.com/Files/AgendaCenter/Agendas/225/2012_11_13_Shareholder_Agenda.pdf

The Board has attempted to provide background on the questions asked, and has also offered the shareholder two alternatives for the resale fee:
1.  The 0.6% fee, as suggested earlier, or
2. The present fee, with inflation added since 2006, plus an addition for newspaper advertizing.

This alternative has been offered, since the change in the mode of fee, from a flat fee to a percentage, had raised some questions at the public meeting.

ALSO ON COUNCIL’S SCHEDULE THIS WEEK

Development Appeal Board meets on Thursday at 9 a.m.  Bow Valley Regional Transit meets on Friday at 2 p.m.

THE FINE PRINT

As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post does not purport to be 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:

Wow – what a whallop of winter!  A bit of a shock as I returned from a warm and sunny vacation. 

But I’m right back at it, as Council has two meetings tomorrow.  Before I talk about those, here’s a bit of information about an opportunity for input ...

HAVE YOUR SAY

I’ve mentioned the Cave Avenue project in my recent email updates.  As promised, Town staff have put up information about the project, including a graphic that clearly compares the width of the current road bed to what will be in place after the project is complete.  This is a chance for you see what is happening and to comment (pro or con) before everything is finalized. 

The link is here:
http://www.banff.ca/index.aspx?NID=835

and the very informative graphic is here:
http://www.banff.ca/DocumentCenter/View/814

FINANCE COMMITTEE MONDAY

Finance Committee meets on Monday at 10 a.m., and you can download the package from this page:
http://ab-banff.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/Finance-Committee-Agendas-12

Solid waste utility rates

The report that starts on page 4 of the package shows the analysis of how we are doing on the phase-in of the garbage utility, and compares the money received from the garbage utility fees with the cost of doing garbage and recycling.  At the present rates, there is a surplus, but a small deficit is projected in 2014.  The recommendation is that we keep the rates the same at present, in order to make appropriate contributions to the capital reserve for equipment replacement, and also to create a “rate stabilization reserve” that will help prevent fluctuations in rates in the future.

Resource recovery (solid waste utility) capital reserve

The next report (page 12) goes on to analyze the cost of future replacement of equipment for garbage and recycling.  It shows that we are slightly underfunding this reserve at present ($202,000 per year, as compared to a target of $232,000) but explains that the surplus identified above will let us close that gap.

Capital reserves summary

Capital reserves are your community’s “savings accounts” – the money we put away to make sure that when roads need rebuilding, or a sewage treatment plant needs replacement, or any other town infrastructure needs renewal or replacement, the money is there.  As you know from reading these emails, we have been slowly working our way through all the town’s capital reserves, comparing the target amounts that we should be transferring each year with what we are actually doing.  The result of all these discussions is summarized, starting on page 16 of the package.  As you’ll see in the summary, at present, overall at present, we are transferring $807,000 less per year to capital reserves than our target amount.  The good news is that the report states that we could possibly close that gap in 5 years, without overall property tax increases, by continuing follow the town’s policy of “occupying the taxing room” when education tax demands are decreased by the province.

COUNCIL ON MONDAY

As always, you are very welcome to come and listen in to the council meeting, which starts at 2 pm.  There are two opportunities during the meeting for questions from the gallery about the day’s agenda.  You can download the package from this page:  http://ab-banff.civicplus.com/AgendaCenter/Agendas--Minutes-Banff-Town-Council-14

A few of the highlights:

Heritage Fund

Past councils set aside money to ensure that we could provide grants and tax incentives for the preservation of heritage properties.  This fund has been drawn down somewhat, and now stands at $130,000.  Starting on page 20 of the package, you can read about how this fund has been used, and about alternative proposals to add money back into the fund.

Personally, I believe that we should have this type of funding available.  Preserving our heritage buildings is a benefit to the community as a whole, and some of the costs should be borne by all of us, rather than falling solely on the people who happen to own the property.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

It is interesting, in looking at the report, to see how few private individuals have accessed this funding.  It makes me wonder whether we should have some different degrees of heritage preservation, rather than an “all or nothing” approach.  For example, if someone extensively renovates the interior of a heritage structure, but keeps the heritage facade intact, is that not better than a demolition?  There is a lot of opposition to “facade-ism” in the heritage community, but I think we need to consider that different properties may have different outcomes.

I’m interested in discussing a combination of a tax-supported contribution with an additional fee on demolition of heritage structures (with those revenues to go into the heritage fund).  I think we need to make it less attractive to go to demolition, while at the same time offering financial assistance with preservation.

Taxi fleet fuel efficiency

This report (starting on page 49 of the package) describes the means that various communities have used to encourage (or require) their taxi operators to use more fuel-efficient vehicles.  It makes interesting reading, but the best part is the letter from Banff Transportation on page 53, describing their commitment to greening their fleet over the next eight years, and talking in the most positive terms about how they plan to go about this.

Council honorarium

As you know, it’s always a struggle for elected officials to deal with the question of their own compensation.  At present, Banff town councillors make $17,950 per year, and the mayor makes $35,900.  Each year, council is given the option to adjust this based on an average of the change in Alberta CPI (consumer price index) and the % change in incomes of people working in Banff.  Although council often passes up the opportunity, I think that it is reasonable to ensure that council honoraria keep pace with inflation. 

This report (starting on page 54 of the package) provides that alternative, but also suggests that it may be time for council to convene a committee of public members who can make recommendations on council and mayor honoraria that would become effective after the 2013 election.  I think having this type of committee is a good idea, as it helps to alleviate the impression that some people have that council members are giving themselves unwarranted raises.

Outdoor rink costs

It’s great to see that the outdoor rink at the high school last winter cost much less than anticipated ($27,500 compared to a budget of $51,500) and that the recovery of the turf in the high school field went so well.  Kudos to all involved!  You can see the details starting on page 56 of the package.

How we prioritize road improvement projects

Town staff have done a lot of work to make the decisions on roadway projects both objective and transparent.  You can see all the factors that are considered, and how they are weighted, starting on page 58 of the package.

Capital project update

The Town’s “to-do list” is laid out in this report (page 63-75 of the package) , along with an update on how each project is proceeding.  In some cases, there are “before and after” photos, and some of them are pretty impressive.  In general, it’s been a good year for capital projects, with few having to be delayed.

Of particular interest is the work done to re-design the library entrance, so that it will be more inviting for everyone and also safer for those with mobility issues.  You can see a graphic of what the layout will be.

ALSO ON THE COUNCIL AGENDA THIS WEEK

• Banff Housing Corporation regular board meeting on Friday morning.
• Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission meeting on Thursday afternoon.

THE FINE PRINT

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

All the best until next time -- Leslie

Hello everyone:

What a glorious September we’re having – hope you’re taking full advantage of this wonderful weather!

HAVE YOUR SAY

Cave Avenue reconstruction

At Council’s last meeting, staff volunteered to put the plans for Cave Avenue up on the website, along with the opportunity for public comment.  This hasn’t happened yet, and a few people have asked me how to comment in the meantime.  You can either wait for the comment page to go up on the website, or you can email your comments to the town’s engineering department.  Here is their directory page:
http://www.banff.ca/town-hall/contacts-directory/engineering.htm

MONDAY COUNCIL MEETING

You can see the full package for our Monday regular meeting at this link:  http://www.banff.ca/Assets/Council-Agenda-120924.pdf

As usual, the meeting starts at 2 p.m. at Town Hall, and you’re very welcome to attend.  There are two opportunities in every meeting to ask questions related to the agenda for that meeting.

Here are some of the highlights from the agenda:

Library presentation

Our head librarian will be presenting information on the operation of the library – you can see the full report starting on page 4 of the package.  The library is showing 12% more visitation than this time last year and an increase in membership and – as always – their clients rate them highly on almost all counts (you can see verbatim comments in the report).  Patrons are concerned about a lack of evening hours, and I will be asking why the board distributes the open hours as they do.

Increase in the Town’s staff accommodation rental rates

Council is being asked to increase the rent paid by town staff in our staff accom by 4.43% in 2013.  The town’s staff housing is user-pay; it is not taxpayer-supported.  The proposed increase is to ensure that we are generating enough money to transfer to the staff housing capital reserve, for eventual major repairs and/or replacement of the staff housing units.

Parking and Housing policies

As part of our work on the Land Use Bylaw, some of the parking and housing decisions are being moved out of the bylaw and into policies, to make it easier to amend them from time to time.  (All Land Use Bylaw changes must be approved by the federal minister responsible for Parks Canada, so nimble changes to the LUB are not possible). 

I continue to be concerned about the low rate for parking and housing cash-in-lieu.  In case you haven’t encountered that term before, “cash-in-lieu” is money paid by developers in lieu of meeting their parking and housing requirements.  So, for example, if your development site is not appropriate for parking, then, instead of constructing your required parking, you can pay into the town’s parking reserve.  My problem is that our parking cash-in-lieu rate is $21,000 per stall, far less than it costs to actually create a parking stall.  Similarly, our housing cash-in-lieu is $21,000 per bedroom, far less than it actually costs to put an additional bedroom into the Banff housing market.  However, I debated these points at the first discussion of the policy with no success.

Of course, this under-payment problem is magnified when Planning recommends relaxation to the numbers of required parking stalls, so I am pleased to see that the proposed parking policy strongly discourages such relaxations.

BANFF HOUSING CORPORATION SHAREHOLDER MEETING

Also on Monday, at 4:30, Council is meeting as the BHC shareholder.  You can see the agenda package at this link:  http://www.banff.ca/Assets/BHC-Shareholder-Agenda-120924.pdf

This meeting is not a decision-making meeting; it is an opportunity for public comment on proposed changes to user fees.  In particular, the BHC is proposing a change to the resale fee (which covers the cost of notifying potential buyers, showing the property, and preparing required documents for the Board) from a present flat fee of $2500 plus GST to a fee of 0.6% of the value of the property.  As part of this change, the BHC proposes to provide newspaper advertizing and website advertizing of properties for sale.

You’re very welcome to attend this meeting and have your say!

ALSO ON THE COUNCIL CALENDAR THIS WEEK

On Monday morning, Council meets with staff in a planning session to talk about priority focus areas for 2013. 

On Wednesday morning, I’m delighted to be participating in a tree-planting event at the elementary school.  This event celebrates the contribution of TD Green Streets to our Urban Forest management program.

On Friday morning, the BHC Board has its regular meeting.

SORRY, NO COUNCIL UPDATE FOR THE NEXT MEETING

I will be on vacation (Sicily!) from September 28 to October 20.  I hope that you will direct any questions or comments that you have during that time to another member of Council – you can find everyone’s contact information on this page: 
http://www.banff.ca/town-hall/banff-town-council/mayor-council.htm

THE FINE PRINT

As always, this post contains my personal opinions.  This post is not an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  Please send me your questions or comments – I’m always happy to hear from you!

All the best until next time -- Leslie