Council update email, March 11, 2012

Hello everyone:

I apologize again for not being able to give you an update before the last meeting, and hope that you were able to keep informed on the town’s doings via and the newspapers!


Monday’s council meeting looks fairly straightforward.  You can see the whole package at

Here are some of the highlights:

Banff Community Foundation presentation

Lorraine Widmer-Carson and John Allard from the BCF will be coming to update council on Foundation doings.  You can see some of the highlights they will be presenting, starting on page 5 of the package.  It’s exciting to see the breadth of Foundation activities, and the background information on how the Foundation does its work.  One interesting fact that I had not known before:  65% of this year’s donations to the Foundation come from donors with addresses outside the national park. 

Regional Transit decisions

Council is being asked to approve updates to the business plan of the Bow Valley Regional Transit.  Because this is a joint effort among Banff, Canmore and ID9, all three councils are asked to approve key documents annually. 

The changes being proposed are:
• 12 hour service on the new Banff-Canmore route, rather than 8 hours.  This is to ensure that the route can function as a meaningful alternative for commuters.
• A lower expectation for fare revenues in the first two years of the new Banff-Canmore route.  The business plan laid out 31-33% fare recovery, but experience on similar routes elsewhere suggests that 25% may be more realistic for the first two years.  Of course, every effort will be made to substantially exceed that expectation.
• Changing the buses we’re acquiring for the Banff-Canmore route.  The business plan proposed two hybrid buses for the new route.  The amended business plan proposes two 40 ft and two 30 ft bio-diesel buses, for the same price that the two hybrids would have cost.  Hybrid buses are excellent for in-town use.  On the longer, highway-based routes, bio-diesel is the better choice for fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility.  You can see the research on this in the report, starting on page 19 of the package.  The Green Trip funding will still be available for these purchases, and regional transit is joining in Calgary Transit’s big purchase of new buses in order to get the best possible price.
• Upgrading the electronic fare collection equipment, to ensure that monthly passes and similar payment options can continue to be dealt with efficiently.
• Delay in the Parks Canada portion of the transit system (route from Banff to Lake Louise/Moraine Lake).  Parks Canada feels that they will be better able to undertake this new system with a 1-2 year delay.  In the meantime, the Regional Transit Commission will work with them on the planning of their new route and stops.

Canmore and the ID have approved these changes already.  Banff council had some questions at the last meeting, and wanted to see more information to ensure that the right choices were being made for environmentally responsible reasons.  The questions from Banff are covered in the report and research that start on page 19 of the package, and I am hopeful that Banff will endorse the new business plan on Monday.

In general, the research shows that environmental responsibility in transit services is not about picking one type of equipment and using it on every route.  On the contrary, each transit route needs to be looked at (minimum and maximum speeds, numbers of stops, normal road conditions, etc.) in order to choose the type and size of equipment that will minimize fuel use and GHG emissions.

Off-leash dog park

As you’ll see in the report that starts on page 79 of the package, Parks Canada has expressed some concerns about the Hawk Avenue location for the new dog park, and wants to see some further analysis of potential effects on the nearby wildlife corridor.  This may result in increased costs and a longer timeframe for the dog park.  I’ll keep you posted.

Community Services alternative revenues

Starting on page 87, you can see a summary of the grant revenues brought in by Community Services staff over the past year, and the projects that have been supported in our community as a result.  Hats off to these hard-working grant-writers for finding non-property-tax ways to fund services, to the tune of almost $275K in one year!


As always, opinions expressed in this update are mine alone, and do not purport to be those of the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions!

All the best until next time -- Leslie