Council update -- 8 June 2013

Hello everyone:

I hope you have had a chance to try out the new Roam route to the Cave and Basin!  This new route covers the gondola and upper hot springs and part of downtown as well, on Fridays through Sundays and on stat holidays.  It’s possible for this summer thanks to funding from Parks Canada and the Town of Banff, and the buses we were able to buy with Green Trip funding from the province. 


Council has a heavy meeting on Monday at 2 pm – we’d love to see you there!  You can see the entire package for the meeting at this link:

Here are a few of the highlights from the agenda package:

Roam transit ridership stats

The Regional Transit Commission will be sending ridership states to each partner, along with the approved minutes from our regular meetings.  Starting on page 17 of the package, you can see the ridership stats for the Banff local routes and for the Banff-Canmore route.  Although local ridership is slightly down, local route fare revenues collected are slightly up – we believe this is because of our new “smart card” technology, which gives us much better control over the way transit passes are distributed and used.  The big news is the ridership on the Banff-Canmore route, which continues to wildly exceed our cautious first-year expectations.

Second reading of Bylaw 320 - Transferability of Commercial Use Development Allotments

As you know, we have a commercial growth cap here in Banff.  Every so often, a lottery is held to give potential developers a crack at some square footage that will allow them to do their development.  Right now, unused Commercial Development Allotments (CDAs) expire after five years, returning to the Town’s “kitty”.  Meanwhile, there are developers who have part of the square footage they need for their proposed building, but no way (other than the lottery) to acquire more.  The proposed bylaw would allow CDAs to be transferred from a developer who is not going to use them to one who will.

Council gave first reading to this bylaw some time ago, and then held a public hearing.  The bylaw is now coming back to us for amendments and voting on second reading.  You can see the report, starting on page 67 of the package.

CDAs are a precious and scarce resource – a resource in which the whole community has an interest.  Therefore, as the MPC suggested, I will be proposing an amendment that requires any of these transfers to go to the MPC for approval, and be subject to their consideration of the objectives of the Commmunity Plan and the Land Use Bylaw.

Second reading of Bylaw 321 – Transferability of commercial gross floor area

The transfer of CDAs is a transfer of potential, un-built space.  This bylaw proposes transferability of previously built space.  So, for example, if commercial space is demolished, or if a building that was commercial is taken over for non-commercial purposes (a government office, let’s say), then this bylaw proposes that the commercial space represented by that building should be available for transfer to another site.  You can see the report, starting on page 110 of the package.

After a lot of thought, after reading the reports and carefully listening at the public hearing, I am inclined to vote against second reading of this bylaw.  I believe that the “trade-offs” will be hard to track and enforce over time, resulting in situations where development rights that have been bargained away will be reactivated in the distant future – a sort of “have your cake and eat it too” situation.  I also think that very few people will understand the technicalities involved, and, if we continue on an enforcement track that relies on complaints, there will be few or no complainants able to identify transgressors.  Who will remember, 25 years from now, when a construction project is proposed for a vacant lot, that the development rights for that lot were bargained away a quarter-century ago? 

Updating traffic by-law fines

Starting on page 120, you’ll see proposals to update the traffic bylaw, particularly to keep fines in line with municipal averages.  This would result in an increase in parking fines, a decrease in fines for heavy trucks being driven outside our designated “truck routes” and a slight increase in the fine for skateboarding on sidewalks, to match the existing fine for cycling on sidewalks.  I’ll be suggesting that both of the latter be increased to $150 rather than $100.  There will still be a discount for paying fines early, and we will continue to have one of the highest fines in the province for parking in a handicapped zone.

There’s also a proposal to allow the parking of private vehicle-trailer combinations on the public roadway for up to 24 hours.  I understand the thinking here – it’s intended for people who are packing up to go on a vacation, or unpacking after one.  But I want to ensure that the wording does not allow for repeated and frequent use.

Transportation Management Plan – budget amendments

If you want to see when your favourite transportation recommendation is going to be implemented, take a look at the report that starts on page 148 of the package.  You’ll see which items are happening in 2013, which in 2014, and which will come back for future consideration.  Just a caution – items with money in 2013 may not be going all the way to construction – some of the 2013 items are just for design or concept development.  For example, the pedestrian-priority street (or “woonerf”) for the 200 block of Bear show up in 2013, but that’s design only.

Community Housing Strategy – guidelines and workplan

A committee with broad community representation is working on a Community Housing Strategy for Banff – scheduled to come back to Council in June of 2014.  You can see the Guiding Principles and Workplan of the committee, starting on page 156 of the package. 


It looks as if the utility crossing/pedestrian bridge will be finished well before its September schedule.  Keep an eye on the Crag for opening dates.


Just another reminder that the fall election will be here before you know it.  If you’re thinking of running and have questions about the life and times of a town councillor, I’d be happy to try to answer them.  If you open the Crag each week and mutter about the decisions we’re making – this is your chance to be at the council table when decisions are made.  If you love the way things are going and want them to continue – this is your chance to be at the council table and provide your input.  Either way, whether you’re satisfied or dissatisfied, please, please consider running for council.  Democracy demands good people who are willing to put their ideas to the test of the ballot box.  People like you!

(Yes, fellow grammarians, I do know that should be “People such as you!”, but it just doesn’t have the same appeal.)


During the summer, council’s meeting schedule changes.  So, just in case you’re anxious to make it to every meeting, here are the summer dates:  June 22, July 8, July 29, August 19. 


On Monday, council has an informal strategy discussion with the Community Art Committee, and I’m doing a newspaper interview.  On Thursday, the Community Housing Strategy Committee continues its work.  I also have a regular BHC board meeting on Friday morning.


This is Issue 118 of my council update, with seven more to go.  Past issues can be seen as posts on my blog at  These updates reflect my personal opinions, and do not purport to be official communications from the Town of Banff or its Council.  As always, I welcome your comments and questions. 

All the best until next time -- Leslie