I hope you've had a chance to enjoy some of the great events at the Mountain Festivals. I look forward to seeing some of you at the Best of the Fest tomorrow evening!
Here are some highlights of what is coming to council on Monday:
VERY IMPORTANT CHANCE TO HAVE YOUR SAY!
On Monday evening, at 7 pm in the Council Chambers, council will be holding the public hearing for Phase 1 of the Land Use Bylaw revisions. You can see the report and background information at this link:
Why should this matter to you? The Land Use Bylaw controls what can be built on every lot in town. It covers things such as the height of buildings, the size of front and backyards, how much space needs to be left between adjacent buildings, how many dwelling units can be built, and so on. This bylaw determines what your neighbourhood will look like as lots are redeveloped.
Frequently, people become concerned when they hear of a development planned for their neighbourhood, and try to stop or change it at that stage. But the time to have input into what happens in your neighbourhood is now, at the Land Use Bylaw stage. If we end up with a bylaw that describes development you can live with, then you will not find yourselves surprised by what is built around you later on.
Many of you connected with the planners when they came to your neighbourhoods to talk about the bylaw. I hope that you will take the further nopportunity to look at the package and get a sense of what is now being proposed, and whether you might want to comment on it. Council will be considering all comments made, plus the thoughts of members of council, when the bylaw comes for amendment and second reading on November 23.
THE REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING
You can see the regular council package by clicking on this link:
The council meeting starts at 2 pm on Monday and, as always, the public is welcome to attend. There are two opportunities during the meeting to ask questions about items on the day's agenda.
Warden service changes
Park superintendent Kevin van Tighem has accepted council's invitation to come and talk to us about what is happening with the warden service and backcountry protection. This is your chance to hear directly about these changes, which have been a hot topic of discussion around town for some time.
Housing incentive program for Town staff
As I mentioned in a past email, this program was proposed to council a few weeks ago. Council asked questions and commented on aspects of the proposal, which was then modified by staff. The revised proposal is coming back for decision on Monday. You can see it starting on page 26 of the council package.
Although the changes have taken the proposal in the right direction, I remain concerned about it, and inclined to vote against it. I appreciate the feedback I have received so far, and would be happy to hear from more of you.
Outdoor rink proposals
Starting on page 39 of the package, you can see the interesting work that staff have done in trying to find a good location for an outdoor rink this winter. There's lots of good news in this report, including the fact that the Springs intend to have their rink in place this winter, and that there will be an outdoor rink at the Rec Centre once the construction project is complete. The report lists the pros and cons of a range of possible locations, and recommends trying a downtown outdoor rink on half of the Bear Street 200 block parking lot this winter.
Central Park is one of the other locations suggested, and the one I think might be best. While I love the idea of a skating rink right downtown, I think that the proximity of washrooms and parking make Central Park a better option. However, there are substantial concerns about how the grass might recover in the spring.
Starting on page 48 of the package, you can see the Town's current financial situation and the forecast to year-end. At present, Town staff is predicting a small surplus at year-end. After the disappointing difference between last year's forecasts vs. actual year-end figures, I will be asking about what changes have been made this year to ensure that these figures will be more reliable.
Tangible capital assets
This is one of those topics that is hard to make interesting, but is very important. Municipalities have been directed to change the way they account for their capital assets, and to amortize them over time. This is a good thing because it puts an actual dollar value on the "infrastructure deficit" (the hidden cost of ageing infrastructure) that exists in many communities across the country, and requires communities to show how they are planning financially for infrastructure replacement.
The good news is that the hard work of Banff staff has put us out ahead of this major change. And there's more good news -- based on the replacement cost of our infrastructure and its expected lifespan, it looks like we are close to putting aside the right amount of money each year for future replacement.
Infrastructure keeners and accounting aficionados can read the whole report starting on page 70 of the package.
Bylaw enforcement briefing
Council supported the hiring of two seasonal bylaw enforcement officers this year, but asked for a follow-up report after the summer season was over. You can find this report starting on page 75 of the package. If you've ever wondered how many parking tickets get written, what the bylaw department does about skateboarders on downtown sidewalks, or whether anyone enforces traffic speed restrictions in town, this lively and entertaining report will give you all the answers.