Council update, 25 November, 2012

Hello everyone:

Just a month until Christmas!  But it’s one of the busiest months on Council’s calendar, with all the work on the budget ...


Council meets tomorrow morning from 9 am to noon to start digging into the budget, page by page.  All budget meetings are public, and you are very welcome to attend.  A special note to those of you who are starting to think that you might like to run for council in 2013:  understanding the budget is key to understanding what new ideas you might like to bring to the table at election time!

We have already had one budget meeting, at which we received a large number of requests for funding assistance from external groups who are doing good work in our community, such as STARS, the SPCA, and so on – totalling over half a million dollars.  You can see all those requests at this link:
Unfortunately, the requests total quite a bit more than we have in the budget, so council will have to review all of these during the budget process, and decide how much the community can afford to fund.

The order of departments coming to council is now changed each year, which is a very good approach, as council members have the most energy at the beginning of the process.  Last year, we started with the capital budget, then went to operating, commencing with Legislative.  This year, we’re starting with operating budget, and with “Other” (miscellaneous items such as the tourism marketing contract, town-owned lands, etc.), which has come in at the end in the past.  As the budget process goes along, you can see all the documents and the updates at this page:

As always, council is aiming for a budget that is at or below inflation for the services that are already in place.  New services are funded by either cuts to existing service budgets, or tax increases, or an outside source of funding or revenue.  You can see an entire report on “New Initiatives” at the link for the budget process.  These are items that administration is asking Council to consider as possible additions to our present services.  Council will consider, debate and vote on new initiatives that any councillors want to bring forward.

Throughout the budget process, the “Budget Tracker” document, which you can see at the link above, will show council and the whole community the tax implications of any deletions or additions.  This is a moving target, because any item can be reconsidered.  So, for example, Council might add a new program at the beginning, but realize by the end of the process that the tax rate is looking unacceptable, and then go back and modify or delete that program.

The Town of Banff publishes a rolling three-year budget, so we’re now working on a budget that predicts revenues and expenses for 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Naturally, the budget for the coming year gets the most attention, as the most factors are known.  But the additional two years are an attempt to predict where we think revenues and expenses will rise or fall.


The regular council meeting starts at 2 pm in Council Chambers.  You can see the entire agenda package at this link:

Here are a few key items from the agenda:

Banff Volunteer Centre

The Banff Volunteer Centre has provided a letter (starting on page 4 of the package) that describes their reasons for ceasing operations.  The Town of Banff has been the only consistent funder through the 15 years of the Centre’s operations, although other sources have contributed at various times.  The Board feels that the inability to find long-term, consistent operations revenue makes it impossible for them to continue.

A report, starting on page 40 of the package, describes this new publicly accessible portal for interactive maps and applications.  This was entirely internally created – no consultants.  There is a lot of good stuff on this site!  I will be asking why some of it requires Flash, and is therefore inaccessible from iPads.

Cave Avenue redevelopment

Many thanks to the many people who provided feedback on the Cave Avenue final design.  You can see the report, and the public comments, starting on page 42 of the package.  As you’ll see, some people are delighted with the design as presented, some feel it’s too wide, some would prefer angle parking, some would like speed bumps, and so on.

Council is being asked whether they would like to go ahead with the project as designed, or go through one more round of public engagement and re-design, which would put construction into 2014.  I will be asking whether there is another option, i.e. to incorporate some of the key concepts from the input we’ve just received, re-design, and go ahead with construction in 2013.  But that may not be practical, especially since the public feedback is all over the map, and it would be hard to be sure we had found the right threads to pursue.

I know (believe me, I know!) that many Cave Avenue residents want to get this construction done in 2013.  But if we cannot do a re-design and go ahead, then I will be supporting the 2014 option.  I believe that a re-design is needed, and I don’t want to go ahead with the existing design.  After all, it’s pretty much irreversible once built.  That’s my personal position – the majority of council may feel very differently.

Banff Centre Assessment

Starting on page 60 of the package, Council is being asked to approve the drafting of a bylaw to tax student residences at the Banff Centre.  There’s a long history behind this discussion, but basically, we would stop taxing the Professional Development Centre, and instead begin taxing part or all of the student residences.  Town staff and the Banff Centre have been discussing this issue for some time.  It’s all related to what parts of post-secondary institutions are and aren’t taxable, under provincial legislation.  I think we should draft this bylaw, but when we eventually come to the final decision, I am undecided as to whether we should tax all of the residences or just part of the residences, so I will be listening closely to the discussion as this goes forward.

Skateboard helmet bylaws

Council asked staff to research what is done about skateboard helmets in other jurisdictions, and whether we can regulate them here.  In the report that starts on page 85 of the package, you’ll see the answers:  not a lot, and yes.  Although I really wish that every skateboarder would wear a helmet, I’m not sure that we have the enforcement capacity to follow this up, so I personally will not be pursuing it further.


Roam will start operating the regional Banff-Canmore route on December 3.  You can read all about it here:

If you believe that public transit is important, please support Roam by riding the service and by encouraging others to join you!


The Town of Banff website can be customized for your personal use.  By setting up a profile, you can have the items that are most important to you at your fingertips.  For a limited time, setting up your My profile also gives you a chance at winning an iPad, iPod Touch, or a certificate for community classes.  Go to, click on any of the tabs across the top, and then on the MY icon on the right side to set up your profile.


This week, Council has another budget meeting on Wednesday morning from 9 to noon.  Development Appeal Board meets on Thursday at 9 a.m.


As always, this post reflects my personal opinions.  It does not purport to be an official communication from the Town of Banff or its Council.  I welcome your comments and questions, and I’m always delighted to add new subscribers to this list!

Until next time -- Leslie