Council email update, 12 February 2012

Hello, everyone:

Happy Valentine’s Day in advance!  I’m just back from an inspiring and informative conference – the Federation of Canadian Municipalities ”Sustainable Communities” conference.  You can see the conference program here  to get a sense of why I’m feeling all charged up and full of ideas.


There’s a lot of discussion around this right now.  I put up an entry on my blog at to provide links to all the past public discussion that I could find.  I hope this may be helpful.

Let me try to summarize the present situation as I see it (the background and costing for everything said below is in the reports referenced in the blog entry):

A.  There is a proposal sitting on the books to build a pedestrian bridge from Central Park to the Rec grounds.  This bridge is priced at 2.55 million for a ped bridge only (no access for ambulances).  It has been on hold for some time because hoped-for grants and donations did not materialize.  Nothing has changed around this proposal.  It has the go-ahead from the majority of Council, and if the money materialized tomorrow, it could conceivably be built.  I have severe concerns about what it would do to Central Park, but that’s just me.

B.  There is a requirement to replace our sewage pipe that crosses the Bow River between the end of Muskrat Street and the YW.  We have looked at a multitude of options:
1.  Pipe-jacking or directional drilling:  these are options that do not require trenching through the river.  Engineering review has concluded that these are not appropriate for our situation, largely for geo-technical reasons.  You can see this information in the reports referenced in the blog entry above.
2. Trenching through the river bed and laying new pipe:  we are very concerned about the environmental impacts of doing this.  Picture coffer-dams to dewater the river bed, coupled with heavy equipment working in the river bed for weeks.  You can see what this would be like in the reports referenced in the blog entry above.
3. Trenching up the side of the river to the existing bridge, providing pumping stations, and hanging the pipes under the existing bridge.  To use a metaphor, this puts yet another egg into the one basket that we have crossing the river.
4. For the same price as option 3, building a structure above the river, following the line of the existing pipe, to hang the water and sewer pipes on. 

Because options 1 and 2 have been explored and found to be impracticable, we are choosing between option 3 and option 4.  Making either choice does not affect the Central Park-Rec Grounds bridge project, which continues to be as described under A.

If we choose option 4, we can make the structure just a pipe-hanging structure OR we can make it capable of carrying people, bicycles, and ambulances.  We can achieve one objective with option 4 (utility crossing only) OR, at the same cost to Banff taxpayers, three objectives with option 4 (ped/cycle bridge, utility crossing and emergency vehicle crossing).

Council has chosen to achieve the three objectives with option 4.  I think this is the right choice.  However, it still needs to go through environmental assessment (with public input encouraged) plus there will be an open house on February 16 (seniors’ centre, 3:30 to 6:30) for people to look at the proposed concept and comment on what is needed (approaches, lighting, etc etc) to make it work well.


Council has a relatively short meeting on Monday.  You can see the full package at this link:

Here are a few highlights ...

Petition from out-of-town photographers regarding non-resident business licenses

Starting on page 5 of the package, you can read a petition stating that out-of-town wedding photographers should not have to pay non-resident business license fees when they work here.  Just to clarify a bit, our bylaw requiring this is nothing new, and it’s nothing unusual.  The City of Calgary charges non-resident business license fees as well, and I’m told (although I haven’t researched this myself) that they are higher than ours.  We do offer options, so that non-residents who want to do business here don’t have to buy a license for the full year if their work here is short-term.  I will be interested to hear the presentation that will be made by Calgary photographer Edward Ross   In general, I feel that local businesses pay business license fees to work here, and should not have to compete with businesses that do not.  That’s why, if a business that I don’t know offers me goods or services, I ask to see their local license first.

Revenue licensing and leasing policy

Council is being asked to update this policy about how the Town issues leases or licenses for town-owned property – you can see the report starting on page 49 of the package.  I’m really pleased to see new clauses on how we will determine the market value of the proposed lease or license, and also new clauses (6.1 and 6.2) making the whole process more transparent.  These new clauses will ensure that everyone gets a fair crack at any leases or licenses that the town has to offer.


Council will also be having a strategy session about how we work with the BHC board going forward, and a strategy workshop on the potential street lighting policy.  These are not decision-making meetings.  Any decisions needed on these topics will be discussed and voted on in future public meetings.


I will be on vacation from February 16 to March 7, and so will miss the February 27 council meeting, therefore there will be no “council update email” the weekend of February 25/26.  I do apologize for that, and will resume my council emails in time for the first meeting in March. 


As always, this email represents my opinions only, and does not constitute an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions.

All the best until next time -- Leslie