Leslie's council update - 8 September 2012

Hello everyone:

Fall is here and council is back in full swing.  Before I tell you about next week’s meetings, here are some important opportunities for you to “have your say”.


Transportation Master Plan

I know that many of you are very interested in possible transportation solutions for Banff.  The town is looking for residents who are willing to spend a couple of hours in a focus group in mid-September, reviewing and commenting on the draft Master Plan recommendations for improving all types of transportation.  If you’d like to get involved, you can sign up at this link: 


The housing needs study is underway and we’d love to have your input and insights, whether you are already happily housed or are still looking for your long-term home.  There are two separate online surveys (for residents and for business owners) and you can find them at www.banffhousingstudy.com   These surveys are for everyone, not just for those who are or expect to be BHC homeowners.  Please share your knowledge of Banff’s housing needs!

Cave Avenue design

As you’ll see below, the design for Cave Avenue is going out for final public comments soon.  If you live on Cave Avenue, you’ll get direct contact from town staff, asking for your input.  If you live elsewhere, but would like to comment on this design, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.


Council meets Monday at 2 pm, and you are very welcome to attend!  You can see the whole agenda package at this link:


Here are some of the highlights:

Return of the Formula Business discussion

Grant Canning will be bringing back the motion for first reading of the bylaw setting a quota on formula businesses, and will be proposing that we have a public hearing in January.  You can see the report starting on page 8 of the package. 

Voting for first reading doesn’t mean that you support the bylaw 100%.  It does mean that you believe that the bylaw merits a public discussion.  As I said the last time this came to council, I think there are strong feelings in the community about this idea (pro and con!) and I think that people expect this topic to be discussed at the council table.  I will be supporting first reading, and look forward to a lively discussion on whether or not townspeople want quotas, at what levels, where in town, and for what types of businesses.  After we’ve had a public hearing, council can publicly debate the bylaw and vote, bringing this issue to a resolution. 

Environmental rebates

A report starting on page 67 of the package suggests that we should dedicate some of our rebate money to encouraging people to sign up for “green power”.  The idea is that the town would pay 20% of the extra cost that you incur for green power for one year, in the hope that people will sign up with this incentive and then will stay signed up over the longer term.

I’m pleased that this idea was raised, because we should always be looking for additional ways to encourage reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  However, while I’m very supportive of rebates for equipment that continues to generate energy efficiency or water savings year after year (such as programmable thermostats, solar hot water installations, ultra-low-flow toilets, etc.), I question the wisdom of dedicating our dwindling environmental rebate dollars to an operating expense that may or may not continue to create environmental savings in the future.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Cave Avenue Reconstruction – design review

As you’ll see in a report that starts on page 72 of the package, the design for Cave Avenue is complete and is coming back to council for information before it goes out to the residents one last time.  You can see the design and the schematics in the report.  I completely agree that Cave Avenue and the water and sewer services beneath it need reconstruction.  However, I personally believe that the design as shown will be highly regrettable when built.

Engineering staff have explained to council that this design reflects the feedback they received from open houses.  I have been told that the option of a separate, lighted trail through the woods for bikes and pedestrians, complete with multiple accesses built up to and across the road to get to housing areas, was rejected by the open house participants in favour of the present design, which is a 1.5-metre wide sidewalk, 2 1-metre bike lanes (one on each side), two 3-metre driving lanes, all in the one right-of-way.  In many parts of the roadway, there will be an additional 2.75-metre wide parking lane.

This means that paving that is presently approximately 7 metres wide will be replaced (where there is parking) by paving and concrete that is 12.75 metres wide.  304 mature trees will be removed.   The report states that 112 of these are entirely healthy, and that the others (192) have been compromised by insects, snow piling, construction damage, etc.  The design includes the planting of 304 trees, which will probably be around 6 feet high when planted, but which we can hope will someday grow to be mature, as long as they are not stunted by insects, snow piling, construction damage, etc.

I’ve looked at the record of public engagement for this project, and I do believe that town staff did their best to hear and respond to public comment.  However, I find it amazing that the participants in the open houses would choose to go with a design that one would find in Panorama Hills or Beddington Heights.  I had always thought that Cave Avenue residents, while they were rightly tired of potholes, liked the charm of a quiet, treed street, with a width that discourages speedy travel.  But I may have misunderstood residents’ preferences.  A lot of Cave Avenue residents are on this emailing list – please, let me know what you think.

I have always considered a complete separation of the bike/pedestrian area from the vehicle area to be the gold standard, and circumstances where you can achieve that standard economically are relatively rare.  On Cave Avenue, we already have that separate path – all we need to do is make it more easily accessible from the housing side, make it suitable for four-season use and light it at night.  Instead, we are going to cut a swathe that will accommodate a road suitable to Calgary suburbs, and that will also impinge on the existing forest trail in several places. 

All of this makes me wonder whether open house participants were actually able to picture in their minds what the final result will look like.  There will be one more opportunity for residents to take a look at the final design.  I hope that people will take that opportunity and give serious consideration to whether this is the best future for Cave Avenue.

Graffiti briefing

Starting on page 78 of the package, you can read about how graffiti cleanup is handled in town.  Seasonally, bylaw staff track graffiti occurrences, then ensure that all graffiti is cleaned off Town property, then follow up with utility companies to do the same, finally finishing off with private property.  Graffiti tends to proliferate if previous examples are left up – our regular clean-up campaign works over the long term to diminish the amount of this vandalism that we have to deal with.  If you see graffiti, please use the Town’s online “action request” to report it, so that it will get cleaned up in the next sweep.


Service Review

On Monday and Tuesday, Council will be going through the initial background work on this year’s Service Review document – the plan that lets staff know council’s expectations for levels of service in the coming year.  This document is background for staff as they prepare their draft budgets. 

Early childhood development

Also on Tuesday, Council will be briefed about the Bow Valley’s part of the province-wide study on children’s readiness to learn when they hit kindergarten.  This is a preliminary draft briefing only – full information will be publicly available in October.

Regional Transit

Regional Transit meets on Wednesday – I’m looking forward to an update on our progress toward the fall launch of the Banff-Canmore service.

Banff Housing Corporation

BHC has its regular board meeting on Friday morning.


As always, opinions expressed in this post are mine alone.  This post is not an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions, and I’m happy to add anyone who wishes to be on the emailing list.

All the best until next time -- Leslie