council update, 25 April 2010

Hello everyone:

I hope you have all been enjoying our multi-season environment this past week, and that you had a chance to stop by the fundraiser for the Community Greenhouse.  Judging by the emails I got back after my last update, there's a lot of support for this project.  It was great to get the news from Larry Bohn at the last council meeting that the Bow Valley Creidt Union is donating $5,000 to the cause.


You can see the entire package for Monday's council meeting at this link:

Here are a few highlights from the agenda:

Council priority update

This is a feature of every council agenda, but I just thought I should mention it in case you haven't noticed it before.  In the package, starting on page 2, you'll see information on the status of several items that council wanted to concentrate on in 2010.  It's worth reading this update document to see what's happening with these various projects.  For example, I know that a lot of you are very interested in the progress of the Rec Centre, and this update document will keep you informed.

Bottled water at municipal facilities

Josie Howitt spoke at the last council meeting about her interest in having Banff meet the requirements of a Blue Community in how we manage our water resources.  As a result of her presentation, council will be considering tomorrow whether we should ban the sale of bottled water at municipal facilities.  I think most of us are aware of the excellent quality of Banff tap water, and of the environmental downsides of bottled water:  additional plastic bottles for recycling/landfill, the very high greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting something as heavy as water, etc.  At the same time, I know that many people -- especially our visitors from places where municipal water is not as good as it is here -- believe that water in a bottle is purer or healthier than what comes out of a tap.  Concern has also been expressed that if we don't sell bottled water at the Rec Centre, users will buy pop instead, which is not a desirable health outcome.

I intend to support this ban at municipal facilities, but to ask that it is accompanied by ensuring that re-usable water bottles are available for those who don't have them.  That's because I believe that a lot of people buy bottled water simply because it's portable (where a water fountain obviously is not) and we need to ensure that people can meet that need.  I will also be asking that we provide information at municipal facilities about the quality of our tap water, to help reassure those who believe that bottled water is more pure.  And I think we will need to review this decision in a year, to see whether the predicted negative effects -- more pop drinking, for example -- have actually taken place.

Assessment Review Board

After you receive your assessment notice (the information on how the Town's assessor sees the value of your property for tax purposes), there is an annual opportunity to appeal this assessment if you believe it to be incorrect.  An assessment review board hears these appeals.  On Monday, Council will be asked to appoint members to the two different assessment review boards that are now required -- the province has changed the rules under which these boards operate, making it much more expensive and onerous for municipalities to operate this necessary function. 


Several items are on the BHC plate right now:

BHC Working Group

The group of BHC homeowners, general public members and council reps is meeting weekly now, working through the recommendations and topics referred to it by Council.  We're hoping to have a package of recommendations ready to go to council (as the shareholders of the BHC) by the end of June.  The group works by consensus, so discussions are detailed and require people to really listen to opposing points of view.  This group meets Mondays in council chambers, 7 - 10 pm, and all meetings are open to the public.

Cave Avenue project

It appears that the Cave Avenue project will not be going ahead within the foreseeable future, because Parks Canada and the BHC have been unable to agree on a transfer price for the land.  Council (acting as the shareholders of the BHC) will be asked on Monday to approve transferring grant money originally intended for Cave Avenue to the Peyto Place acquisition.

Peyto Place

The BHC recently conducted an online survey about the Peyto Place units and the model for resale.  Existing tenants will be given first right to buy their units, before they are offered to the rest of the potential buyers.  You can see the results of the survey here:


Besides attending the regular council meeting, the BHC shareholders meeting, and the evening meeting of the BHC working group, I will also be joining the rest of council for a workshop on Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw review.  Planning staff will be explaining to us the approach they're taking with this work, and the proposals for changing the bylaw that they would like to consider.  I'll keep you updated on opportunities to have input into this phase.


As always, this post represents my personal point of view only, and does not purport to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or of Banff Council.