Hello everyone, and Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there.
COUNCIL MEETING ON MAY 9
Tomorrow's council meeting agenda is a long one, and includes some items carried over from last meeting. You can see the entire package at this link:
Here are some of the highlights ...
New composting approach
You'll recall that we saw some information on this a few weeks ago, and asked for two options - one in which we own the equipment, the other in which the N-Viro company that will be marketing the soil amendment product would also own the equipment. This was because we were worried about spending all the capital money on equipment, then finding out after five years of operation that the program wasn't working out.
Starting on page 9 of the package, you can see the resulting report. It appears that owning the equipment ourselves is the best deal, but that's because the company would be charging us 9% per year on their cost of owning the equipment, while depreciating it as well -- all this at a time when a good commercial rate of borrowing is around 5%. To me, this unusually high interest rate suggests that N-Viro possibly views this project as risky. I will be asking more questions.
On the plus side, our operations manager has now visited sites where this process is in action -- I look forward to hearing what he learned from those visits.
Proposed Farmers' Market
The farmers' market idea is coming back to us with a recommendation for approval, for ten Wednesdays between June 29 and August 31. I will be asking for more assurances about where the vendors come from, and the balance between food/produce and other items. I also think that the proposed street use permit fee, which works out to around $35 per vendor per day, is too low to compensate the community for the additional work that will need to be done each week. It is also, I believe, considerably lower than the per-day vendors' fees typically charged by arts and crafts shows in the area. You can read the whole report starting on page 16 of the package.
Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds hook up to Town’s sewage system
You may not know that Tunnel Mountain Campgrounds, equivalent to a summer village of around 1300 inhabitants, drain their sewage along the old Anthracite road to settling ponds and a sand filter in the old Peyto Pit. This is not exactly state-of-the-art sewage treatment (although the ducks seem to like it), so it’s good news that Parks Canada has decided to hook up to the Town’s system. They will pay the same utility rates as other out-of-town users, and so this is good for the environment and for the cost recovery of our system. You can read the briefing starting on page 55 of the package.
2014 Alberta Winter Games bid preparation
Since we last saw information about this possible bid, a small group of determined volunteer and staff members from both communities has been working away at the various pieces of information needed to prepare an actual bid (due in June). This report (starting on page 84 of the package) tells us about their progress. There is a lot of good info here, but I still have a few questions. For example, the report shows that our own ever-energetic Mary Brewster has been working 3-5 hours a week on this project, then making up the time on her usual tasks in the evening and on weekends – that’s surely not sustainable. I also still need to see an indication that we will actually get the commitment of the hundreds of volunteers needed from each community. And there is still no indication of how much money the Town of Banff will have to contribute, and when it will be due. Finally, the report makes it clear that the two towns are on the hook for any deficit, but there is no information on where a surplus would go.
Wolf Street washroom – solar panels?
We are being asked (starting on page 93) to expand the present Wolf Street washroom renovation project to include solar panels on the roof and better exterior lighting and signage. This would be funded from capital reserves. I think this is an excellent idea – I think we should be doing this on the roof of every building that we do work on.
New purchasing policy
Council will be asked to pass the new purchasing policy that we reviewed in detail at the Finance Committee meeting. You can see this report starting on page 98 of the package.
Recreation, Parks and Culture activities 2007-2010
This report tells you all about program participation, facility usage, and the broad range of work done by this department. It starts on page 112 of the package.
Communications policy and strategic plan
These items (report starts on page 127) will guide the Town’s communications efforts. I like the majority of what we’re seeing here, but would like to have discussions with council on a few items. For example:
· There’s a reference to communicating with the “appropriate Banff public”. How do we determine who the appropriate audiences are for various initiatives? I don’t want to see us relying too much on “stakeholders” while spending less effort on the general residents.
· There are references to making sure that programs, buildings, and so on are identified in ways that conform with the Town’s identity. I’d like to go a little farther and specify that the Town’s logo is what we use for Town programs, and that we don’t need to create additional logos.
· There’s a reference to challenging “negative and inaccurate information from third parties”. Of course we should challenge inaccurate information, but negative opinions are fair game, as far as I’m concerned. Everyone has the right to freely disagree with Town decisions.
Some other items were carried over from the April 26 meeting, and you can read all about them in my previous email. They include:
· Bow River Utility Crossing
· FCSS annual plan
· Banff Housing Corporation shareholders’ meeting and AGM
THE FINE PRINT
As always, opinions expressed in this email are mine alone. This email does not purport to represent the opinions of the Town of Banff or its Council. If you’d like to be taken off this mailing list, just let me know by email. I’ll only whine a little bit.