Council update, 25 March 2012

Hello everyone:

First, a few notes about community items you may be interested in:


If you have a BES or BCHS student in your family, you may be interested in this contest. The Crag is once again offering a prize to the first student to email a picture of a robin (taken this spring in Banff) to Larissa Barlow. You can read about the long-ago Crag tradition that inspired this contest at this link:

I happen to know that there’s at least one robin out there, so enjoy the outdoors and keep your eyes peeled.


On April 4th, the Banff Ideas Bank is running their monthly Conversation Cafe.  The theme will be humour!  So bring your best thoughts about being funny, and join the community conversation.  The event starts at 7 pm at the WildFlour.


There’s still time to do a quick and easy online survey to give the Town of Banff your opinion about transportation in town:  parking, driving, public transit, the bridge ...  From door—knocking, I know for sure that there are lots of opinions out there!  Your input will help shape the terms of reference for the transportation plan that the town is working on this year.  Go to:

Now, on to tomorrow’s business...


About  eight times per year, all of council meets as the finance committee, in order to have extra time to review the town’s financial procedures, policies and results.  These meetings are public – you’re very welcome to attend.  Tomorrow, we’ll be meeting at 10 a.m. in Council Chambers; you can see the whole agenda package here:

The key purpose of the meeting is to discuss the amount of capital reserve that the Town should put aside each year in order to be prepared for the future replacement of town buildings, when they eventually hit the end of their useful lives.  This is prudent management – making sure that future taxpayers won’t have to come up with large sums for the replacement of necessary facilities.

In the report, starting on page 4 of the package, you can see information on the current replacement value of various buildings, and on the assumptions made about how long foundations, building envelopes, roofs and services can be expected to last, and what those assumptions translate into in terms of annual contributions to capital reserves.  Finance committee is our chance to examine those assumptions.  For example, I’m thinking that we could responsibly estimate a 60-year life for building envelopes and a 25-year life for roofs – at least on our more modern buildings – and therefore lower the annual contribution somewhat, while still being responsible.


I believe that tomorrow’s agenda package may have set a new record:  433 pages.  You can see this weighty tome at this link:

A few of the highlights:

Briefing on the pedestrian bridge project:

Because there is so much public interest in this project (both for and against), administration will be bringing us regular updates on what’s being done with community feedback and questions, and what’s happening on the project itself.  You can see the report starting on page 8 of the package.

Update on illegal dumping:

Town staff are working hard to deal with the consequences of “beside the bin” dumping of large items – through education, and through additional pickup services.  Starting on April 2, you can book large-item pickup not just on Fridays, but five days per week.  You can see the waste reports starting on page 26 of the package.

RCMP policing agreement

The province has re-negotiated the agreement with the RCMP on behalf of the municipalities that use the RCMP as their police service.  The province provided the detailed agreement to municipalities for the first time on March 9, and gave us until March 31 to sign.  Nice to have lots of time to review it!  The good news is that some provisions have been re-written to give municipalities a stronger voice in helping to set policing priorities within their boundaries.  The not-so-good news is that we don’t know the details of the financial implications yet.  If we sign on now, we have two years to withdraw from the agreement.  You can see the whole report starting on page 34 of the package.

Regional Transit financial commitment

As discussed in my last update, Council approved the business plan changes for regional transit at the last meeting, and is now being asked to vote the financial support for 2012.

Sponsorship policy

A draft sponsorship policy for the town starts on page 86 of the package.  This lays out the conditions under which the town would accept marketing style sponsorships – the kinds of things where buildings or programs are named for or logo-ed for the companies that pay to support them.  I am OK with this in principle, and I like what the policy says about not associating ourselves with businesses that do not reflect our values.  However, I think we need to identify the buildings, facilities and programs that cannot be named or logo-ed in this way, I think we need to decide what happens when companies that compete directly with our taxpayers want to sponsor a Town of Banff asset, and I think we need to lower the level of sponsorships that can be negotiated by staff without taking it back to Council. 

Street lighting policy

The planning department is working on a street lighting policy, to ensure that we work toward a street lighting system that is environmentally responsible, that provides appropriate light levels without glaring into people’s windows, and that is aesthetically pleasing.  You can see the full report starting on page 94.  This whole policy is going to go out for public review, and planning has some interesting ideas for letting people know what the different light levels mean, so that you can respond about what you’d like to see in your neighbourhood.  I’ll keep you updated as this progresses, and make sure you hear about the public input opportunities.

Land Use Bylaw

And finally, the Land Use Bylaw.  The report that starts on page 126 of the package (and goes on to page 433) details some of the proposed changes for home occupations, bed and breakfasts, housing and parking fees.  The purpose of having this on the agenda is so that Council can give first reading (which just gets it on the table for discussion) and set a time for a public hearing.  So I’ll be sure to keep you posted on that public hearing date.


As always, the opinions 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 comments and questions!