Postings related to my campaign for Town Council.

Because a councillor's workload can take on a life of its own, it's a good idea to check yourself every now and then against the goals set back during the election.

Here are some notes about areas I'm pleased with so far, and areas where I think I should try to work harder.  These all relate to my campaign promises, which you can read at   Of course, no individual councillor can take credit for any program -- everything that is done by the town is a team effort of various councillors and staff -- but I believe that my efforts have helped to support some positive directions.

The environment:

I'm very pleased with our improvements in public transit, with the huge increase in convenience of recycling, and with the completion of the Urban Forest Management Plan and council's agreement to fund work on it, even in this difficult year.  I had an opportunity to work on development regulation application for a year, as a member of the MPC, and I enjoyed making a contribution to that work.

 I'm looking forward to an opportunity to support updated development regulations and dark skies initiatives as part of the Land Use Bylaw review that is starting this month.

We've had a tough time with the wastewater treatment plant over the past year, with a few different operators, and questions about whether we were meeting provincial standards for operator qualifications, numbers of staff, and so on.  However, the effluent quality remained substantially better than provincial requirements throughout.  We are now settled in with new Alberta-based operators, and I look forward to smooth sailing from here on in.

Our financial fitness:

I was not successful in my attempt to establish a financial review committee of council, but we have made some changes that I think help to establish an environment of more transparent financial accountability to the public.  These changes include quarterly financial forecasts at council, releasing to the media the town's list of cheques written, and a much more detailed public review of operating and capital budgets.  There is always more work to do in this area.

I supported the borrowing bylaw for the recreation centre upgrades, based on the assurance that provincial MSI funding would cover the cost of paying back the loan.  Now, with the new provincial budget, it appears that the MSI amounts will be less than expected.  I will be looking at this (and I expect the rest of council will, too) to see what we can actually afford to do, and whether we need to rescind the bylaw.

Quality of life for residents:

I have tried to support programs that concentrate on the needs of residents, and also made an effort to let people know what's available to them.  I've publicized the "Action Request" on the website (it lets people ask directly for the services they need) and have occasionally done action requests on behalf of citizens who don't have online access.

Opportunities for input:

There is always more work to do in this area.  I still feel that the town would benefit from more public advisory committees, but I know that it is hard to get members for these.  During this past year, the town has held open houses on important issues (e.g. Cave Avenue housing, wayfinding plans), and I'm looking forward to a series of public input opportunities as part of the Land Use Bylaw review.  I'm also pleased with the continuing great service on the website.

To try to help citizens feel engaged, I've personally undertaken two communication initiatives.  First, I put out a council update before each meeting, both here on my website and as an email to those who've signed up on my email list.  People often provide input to me on the issues raised in those updates.  As well, I'm trying to door-knock the whole town again (half last fall, half in the fall of 2009) to give people a chance to tell me directly what they think about town services and priorities.

I've sent a personal answer to every email that's been sent to me, and I've followed up for people who have sent emails to town departments and not received an answer.

In retrospect, I feel that I should have done a better job of helping to shape the communications related to the proposed Banff Housing Corporation changes.  I think the facilitated working group approach is helping to get this back on track.

Happy spring, everyone!  The tulip greens are up two inches in the front flowerbeds.  I searched the high ground by Johnson Lake yesterday for prairie crocuses -- no luck there, but I did, to my utter amazement, see seventeen swans on Two-Jack Lake.  So I guess the calendar is right, and spring is on the way.


Karen Sorensen reminded me the other day that we are half-way through this term of council.  High time for a report card!  I have always felt that councillors (and all elected representatives) should be regularly reminded of what they promised at election time and, for that reason, I had my election pages archived.  You can see them here:

Before the next email update, I'll do a little self-assessment on how I think I'm doing.  But I'd love to hear from you as well!  Please take a look at the election page, and tell me what you think I'm doing well and where I should improve.  I value your feedback.


Two parallel streams of work are going on.

First, council, the BHC and others are working on how best to provide for the homeowners the future security that was promised in Council's motions of February 23.  The BHC directed a bunch of questions to the town's lawyer about different possible mechanisms, and has shared the response.  A local lawyer, volunteering his time to help a BHC homeowners' group, has proposed an alternative mechanism, and this has been sent to the town's lawyer for comment.  Once an idea has been found that seems workable to the various parties, it will need to be reviewed with everyone who needs to agree to it or will be affected by it.  Then we can implement it.

Second, a facilitator with substantial mediation experience has been hired to manage the working group process that will review the remaining recommendations and the many other good suggestions that have been made.  Many of you will remember Dave Gould, who worked here in town from the mid-70s until 1988.  Dave has already discussed possible process ideas with members of council, will be meeting with BHC homeowners on March 25, and will be working with a range of people to lay out a process that is workable for everyone.


Here are a few highlights:

Borrowing bylaw for the Recreation Centre renovation and addition of a second ice sheet:

Council will be asked to give second and third reading to a bylaw allowing for the borrowing of up to $15.6 million over a ten-year period to add to the $15.3 million in provincial and federal funding that is supporting this project.  This will provide for the renovation of the existing arena, the replacement of lobby/changeroom areas, the replacement of the curling sheets with 4 new curling sheets, and the addition of a second hockey-sized rink.

Administration is working hard on additional grants to support this project, in the hopes that we will not have to borrow as much as the full $15.6 million.  The intention is to pay back the loan over the next ten years with the money we expect to receive from the province's Municipal Sustainability Intitiative (MSI) fund. 

I support this borrowing, because I feel that the project is now a reasonable balance between saving what can be saved, replacing what needs to be replaced, and adding a rink that we know will be fully used.  I will be checking once again tomorrow for assurance that the MSI funding is going to continue, even though the economic climate has changed.  I will also ask for the references in the borrowing bylaw to be changed from "multiplex recreation facility" to "renovation and upgrading of recreation centre", because I want to be clear about the limits of the project we are voting for.

Land Use Bylaw review process:

The Land Use Bylaw controls aspects of the town that are very important to all of us:  density, building design, signage, bed and breakfasts, and so on.  The current bylaw has been in place for some years, and is due for review and - if n4ecessary - updating to meet the needs of the community.

This review will take place starting in April, and is designed to reach a conclusion before the next election in the fall of 2010.  There will be lots of opportunity for public input.  You can read about the proposed process by clicking on

and scrolling or bookmarking down to item 8.1 (page 60)

Lots of other items

To read minutes from the Banff Housing Corporation, the Library Board, the Public Art Committee,  to peruse a letter from an artist suggesting street vending in Banff, or to read any of the other items in the council package, just go to:

Hello everyone:

Well, it still feels like winter, but I was delighted to see pussywillows along the Cave & Basin Marsh loop today.  Although it's hard to tear yourselves away from the combination of long days, good snow and sunshine, here are a few items you might want to know about ...

Obstetrics closure at the hospital

The closure has gone ahead, and it seems to have changed from three months to indefinite.  Hats off to the community folks who are actively commenting and making their voices heard on this one.  The demonstration at the hospital on Saturday was polite, lively and well-attended, and I expect that we will be seeing lots of people at the council meeting tomorrow as well, as the hospital CAO will be there to discuss the closure with council.

I've attended the two demos at the hospital, and -- along with Councillor Karlos -- I also met with Dr. David Swann (leader of the Liberal opposition in the provincial legislature) when he came to Banff on Saturday to look into the situation.  Dr. Swann has been asking about this issue in the legislature.  You can see the government's response on YouTube ...

If you want to follow what's going on with this issue, and you're a Facebook user, you can join the Facebook group Bow Valley Residents Supporting Banff's Labour and Delivery Program. 

I hope that we can all work with the hospital to help them plan for re-staffing their present nursing shortage and re-opening the program.  Having babies born in Banff is an important part of the spirit of our community.

RCMP Community Advisory Committee

I know that many of you are interested in issues such as late night noise, and I hope that you may take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about what goes on, and to be part of finding solutions.  The Banff detachment is looking for volunteers to join a community advisory committee, to give them input on their priorities and to let them know the interests and concerns of the public.   If you're interested in serving on this committee, you can find out the details by chatting with Staff Sergeant Wayne Wiebe at 403-762-2228. 

It's great that they're reaching out to the community -- let's show them that we appreciate it by making sure they get the volunteers they need.  Please pass this info on to any of your friends who might be interested!


Here are some highlights from tomorrow's council agenda ...

Hospital delegation

As I mentioned, Cindy Mulherin of Mineral Springs will be coming to talk with council about the obstetrics closure.

Loan guarantee for Rocky Mountain Housing Co-op

Council will be asked to give second and third readings to a bylaw to continue providing a loan guarantee for the RMHCA -- these are the apartment-style buildings beside the Rec Grounds.

ROAM transit system changes

Council will be asked to approve some changes to the transit system - moving some stops, realigning some routes, and going to two routes year-round instead of two in the winter and three in the summer.  The intention is to provide a shorter interval between buses, and a longer service day.  You can see all the details by going to:

and scrolling down to page 38.

Water well #6

There's good news in the same package ...

... at page 59.  Because more Banffites and businesses have been conserving water, the town's demand for water has stabilized, rather than increasing as was predicted in the 2004 Water Master Plan.  As a result, it looks as though we won't need to go ahead with the proposed sixth water well, but have enough capacity in existing wells to meet our requirements.  And that's not just scraping by, either -- provincial requirements state that we must be able to meet our maximum daily demand (the amount of water drawn on the highest-use day of the year) even if our highest-producing well is out of service.  The engineers are telling us that we can do this now and for the next five years (given present trends), so we don't need an additional well.


As always, this post represents only my point of view, and does not purport to represent the official position of the Town of Banff or of the Banff Town Council.


My computer, with all its resident files, has been saved, thanks to the technical brilliance of Ken Lee!  I will be able to resume my council update emails before the next council meeting, and continue on schedule.  A few people have mentioned seeing my ad in the Crag, so that's good, too.


I have very recently learned that the Mineral Springs Hospital is thinking of suspending its obstetrics services, effective almost immediately.  This is a shock, to say the least, but I'm not nearly as impacted as the several very pregnant young women who were at the protest meeting at the hospital today.  I have received lots of emails on this one -- many people seem to believe that this is a Council decision.  All I can do is keep on replying that we have no decision-making power over the hospital, and all Council can do is try to influence the decision -- I urge all concerned citizens to express your concerns directly to the hospital, not just through us.  Council has asked to meet with the hospital administration.


Unfortunately, due to a problem that flared up three days before my intended flight, I have to stay near an ophthalmologist for the next few weeks.  As a result, my trip to Spain is on hold once again, probably until this time next year.  So I won't be missing those meetings after all.


Unfortunately, my optimism on February 9 was misplaced.  My computer, having been cleaned up, promptly reinfected itself from some hidden reservoir of the virus.  I still have hopes of recovering my email lists and other key files over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, I'll continue to rely on this blog.  I placed an ad in this week's Crag to let people know why they're not receiving my email updates - sure hope that everyone sees it!

Yes, yes, I know that I should have kept everything backed up every day.  Alas, I didn't.  Believe me, I'm repentant!


By now, most people will be familiar with the recent motions passed by Council (acting in their capacity as the shareholders of the BHC), in consultation with the other members of the BHC Board.  In case you haven't seen them, they can be viewed at this link:

The working group that is referred to is being discussed now, with the intention of getting it structured and working soon.  It is supposed to report back to Council by June 15.

It is my personal hope that Council, the BHC board and interested homeowners and members of the community will work together to structure the working group and set its terms of reference.  My own suggestion (and this is strictly my personal thought) is that I would like to see a group made up of 3 board members from the BHC, 5-6 BHC homeowners, 3-4 members of the rest of the community, and a councillor or two.  I would hope that we could engage an experienced facilitator/mediator to assist the group with process.  I would also hope that meetings would be open to the public, with 2 to 3 chances in each agenda for members of the "audience" to ask questions or make comments about the items on the agenda.  

Some things are determined already.  Council and the BHC board will ask the working group to use as a resource the remaining recommendations from the BHC board, plus the many issues, solutions and ideas that were put forward in the public input to date, and to entertain additional ideas as well.  Council is also committed to a public open house once the working group reports back.

I understand from the Crag article that some people believe that the councillors are distancing themselves from Recommendation 6 and leaving the BHC board members to bear the displeasure of the BHC homeowners.  So let me put on the record that I was there at the meetings about the recommendations, I was part of the discussion, and I agreed with the decision to go out to the public with Recommendation 6.  If you're mad at anyone about this, be mad at me, too. 

Having read in detail the thoughtful analysis of the numbers around a 2% cap that several people provided to me, I'm now totally convinced that the price cap would have had more severe short-term and long-term effects than I had thought.  ! supported the motions that Council made on February 11, and will vote to re-affirm them at the meeting on Monday.


Rec Centre borrowing

Council is being asked to give first reading to a bylaw to borrow approximately $15 million toward the rfecreation centre redevelopment:  refurbishing the existing hockey arena, building new changerooms and lobby facilities, replacing 4 curling sheets, and potentially adding a second full-sized ice surface.  The intention is to pay this loan back over 10 years, using the Municipal Sustainability grant money that is committed to come to us from the province.  The Town also intends to apply for much more grant money, in the hope of diminishing the borrow substantially.

I will be asking again for reassurance that the provincial grant program is committed and will not be cancelled.

This borrowing bylaw will be advertized to the public before coming back to council.

As you know, I expressed concern during the election about the Rec Centre plans.  I'm fully in support of what is being proposed at present, however, because I believe that it prudently re-uses what parts of the existing building can be saved, replaces what can't, and takes full advantage of grant money available.  The whole process is moving quickly to ensure that we get to keep the $6 million already granted to us b y the province and the feds -- they require us to be in the ground with this project this spring.

Municipal heritage designation of the Crandell-Peck cabin

The Crandell-Peck cabin will be coming back to Council for the official designation bylaw.  This allows access for the owners to funding to help with restoration.  And it's official - the EH Crandell who built the cabin is indeed a major historic figure in southern Alberta -- owner of the Brickburn brick factory, a Calgary alderman, and a partner in the drilling of the first oil well in Alberta.  Crandell Mountain in Waterton is named for him.

Report on environmental incentives

Council will be looking at a report on the effectiveness of the toilet rebate program.  Banffites can apply for a $75 rebate for replacing their old high-flow toilet with a 6-litre model, and a $100 rebate if they go to a dual-flush 3 to 6 litre model.  74 rebates have been issued so far under this program.  The report shows that some people have achieved amazing water savings -- up to an astonishing 57% difference between 2007 and 2008 water use, with results averaging at a 17% improvement.  Of course, the toilets are just one factor in those changes, but obviously some Banffites are really making a big effort on water conservation and getting great results.

FCSS Annual Report

FCSS will be presenting their new "annual report to the community", in which they showcase their programs and describe their results.  This report will be available on the website and in printed form, and FCSS intends to do it every year from here on in, to increase their accountability to the community.  This report is a great way to become familiar with the amazing breadth of programs offered  by this dedicated group.


I'm leaving on the evening of February 24 to return to Spain and attempt once again to finish my walk to Santiago.  If all goes well, I will be over there until April 12.  This means that I will miss both council meetings in March -- I believe that these are the first regular meetings that I've missed since being elected.  Because I will be largely out of touch (email access is very sporadic along the trail), and therefore not very useful as a councillor, I will donate my two March paycheques back to the Town upon my return.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me -- I would really like to finish this walk this time!


As always, this blog entry represents only my own opinions and ideas, and does not purport to represent the official position of Council or the Town of Banff.  Thanks for reading it -- please feel free to comment here or by email to