email update, Feb 23 2008

Hello everyone: 

Here are some quick notes on recent and upcoming happenings at Council.  As always, any opinions expressed here are mine alone, and do not represent the position of Council  or the Town of Banff.


Here's what happened with various items on the agenda at the last Council meeting:

On the parking alternatives ...

  • Parking on Bow Avenue:  council voted not to pursue this, because of the visual and safety impact on an important walking/scenic/recreational area.  However, the point was made that handicapped stalls may need to be in place.
  • New surface lot by the hospital:  council voted not to pursue, because of the required tree removal and impact on the aesthetics of the area, and also because they weren't convinced that prospective users would be able/willing to find and use it to park for downtown.
  • Increase directional signage for Cascade Plaza to increase use and move all 12-hour parking there:  this was approved, and administration will bring back the details.
  • Change over Bear St parkade to all one- and three-hour spots:  approved
  • Lease the high school parking lot in the summer:  this was approved for administration to investigate with the school district.
  • Consider attempting to acquire the residence beside the Beaver Street lot for surface lot expansion:  this was approved, and administration will investigate this idea further and -- if it looks possible -- bring costs and timelines back to council.
  • Promote car pooling:  council agreed that there is enough information out there about the virtues of car pooling, and that the main factors that convince people to do it are environmental concern and the cost of fuel.  Therefore, no additional money is going to be spent promoting it, but it will be mentioned as a good idea in town publications, etc wherever possible.  The idea of dedicated parking stalls for car poolers was discussed, but council felt they are too difficult to enforce.
  • Take another look at pay parking:  council asked staff to update the pay parking information that we have from earlier discussions, and bring it back to council for consideration.
  • Consider building another parkade in a location other than Beaver Street:  not approved -- by another 3-3 vote.

On the Re-use-It Centre:

  • Everyone is very excited about the possibilities here, and council voted to have it go into the mix for the 2009 strategy discussions.  At the same time, both council and staff want to make sure that this doesn't negatively affect churches and other organizations that have traditionally made money through rummage sales, and so it was agreed that any idea of this type would be developed by working with those organizations to find a win-win approach.
  • Thanks to Catherine B for directing me to information on the highly successful centres in Portland, Oregon -- take a look at this link if you want to get inspired:

On the bylaw review procedure:

  • Administration told Council that they have put a procedure in place that will bring every bylaw back in front of council at least once every three years.  Council was surprised but pleased to learn that this procedure existed.  With this assurance that a responsible approach was already in place, I withdrew my motion.

On the Finance Committee:

  • Council defeated my motion to establish a Finance Committee, with a vote of 4 - 2 (Macdonald and Taylor for).  From the discussion, it is my understanding that the councillors who were opposed feel that sufficient controls, checks and balances are already in place, that Council is already sufficiently informed on the Town's financial performance, that creating a Finance Committee gives you a situation where some councillors are more in the know than others, and that this type of committee would require a lot of extra work by councillors and staff.  In order to satisfy myself that I am doing my duty as a councillor, I will be attempting to personally review over the next few months all the items I had listed for a Finance Committee to do.


Bow River Basin

  • There will be a presentation on water quality objectives and indicators for the Bow River Basin.

Regional Transportation Authority

  • Council will be asked to endorse a regional transportation authority steering committee with reps from Towns of Banff and Canmore, ID9, Tourism Canmore, the ski areas, the accom sector, the transportation sector, and the environment sector, and to appoint the Mayor (who has already been very active on this project) as the town's rep.  This is exciting, because it's one more step along the way toward a coordinated regional transportation system, with transportation to and within Canmore and around Banff National Park destinations including ski areas.  Good for the environment, for tourism, and for the residents!  The province has been asked to provide a substantial grant to help with getting this set up -- we should know their answer by the end of March.

Report on the Lands Adjacent to the Town of Banff:

  • Many of you will remember the LATB planning process, and the exciting ideas that came out of it for environmental protection and recreational use in the area around the Town of Banff.  Parks Canada is not wasting any time on this -- they're already moving forward with some of the Key Actions from the LATB plan.  You can read the brief report on what they're doing by clicking on this link
  • and scrolling down to page 62. 

Homeless and Hard to House

  • Huge congratulations to FCSS and the BRRR Committee, who have worked together to acquire a grant of $65,000 from the province to provide "street-level" assistance for the next two years to adults who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in Banff.  The report estimates that this would be 9 - 14 people per month, on average.  You can see the report by clicking on:
  •       and scrolling down to page 70.


I was fortunate enough to attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' Sustainable Communities Conference February 14 - 16 in Ottawa.  The presentations were inspiring and packed with information.  They focussed on solutions, not just on problems.  I came back with lots of ideas that I'd like to investigate further and see whether they can work for Banff. 

Just two of many examples:  Apparently Welland, Ontario  converted to LED streetlights and paid the cost of the project (due to energy savings) in 1.5 years!  And Halifax is dealing with aging water lines as we are, but they've found a technology that allows them to go in and re-line some of the pipes in situ, rather than digging them up and replacing them -- that sounds worth looking into!

I signed up right away for the website/listserve of one of the best presenters -- you can visit it here to check out great case studies and link to other sustainability resources:

You can see the program of the conference by clicking here:

All the best until next time -- Leslie