What an amazing day! Hope you all had a chance to get out and enjoy it!
Here are a few highlights of what’s going on with council ...
NEW REGIONAL TRANSIT MANAGER STARTS WORK
First thing Monday morning, I’ll be greeting our new transit manager, Koji Miyaji, as he arrives for his first day of work. I’m delighted that the regional transit commission will have a staff member in place who can get working on the many items coming out of the commission’s business plan.
COUNCIL TOURS WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
Also on Monday morning, I’ll be joining the other councillors in a tour of the sewage treatment plant. I’ve done this twice before and always found it very interesting – no, I’m not kidding! If you’ve never had a tour of the plant, look for an opportunity – maybe you could go along when one of your kids is going on a school tour. We’re very proud of the good quality of our effluent as it goes back into the Bow River. As residents of the headwaters, all of us here in Banff have a special responsibility to everyone downstream, and we work hard to live up to it.
MONDAY’S COUNCIL MEETING
You can find the overall package for Monday’s meeting at this link:
Here are some of the key items that will be on the agenda. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on any of these items:
Land Use Bylaw – appointing working group members
We’ve had a very good response to the request for volunteers for this committee. Kudos to all of you who have volunteered! At the Monday meeting, Council will appoint the members:
• four public members (+ one alternate public member);
• two Town of Banff Councillors;
• one Banff Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association representative (+ one alternate member);
• one commercial landlord representative (+ one alternate member);
• one food and beverage industry representative (+ one alternate member);
• one retail industry representative (+ one alternate member);
• one Municipal Planning Commission representative
You can read the whole report starting on page 7 of the package.
Sewer mains condition report
Starting on page 19 of the package, you can read about the project to assess and document the condition of the town’s wastewater mains. You’ll probably find page 23 of the package the most interesting part – that’s where you can see a map of what’s been assessed and whether those pipes are in very good, good, fair, poor, or very poor condition. This is an excellent, clear representation of where we’re doing OK, and where we have problems.
Although the report states that the project is “on budget”, it also states that 60% of the originally intended work has been done, for almost 100% of the money budgeted. That’s an unusual definition of “on budget”, and I’ll be asking about the disconnect.
Bike share system
You’ll recall that BCHS students did an excellent report to council, recommending that we consider introducing a bike share system in the Town of Banff – something like the Velib system in Paris or the Bixi Bikes in Montreal. Council asked admin to look into this further, and you can see the report starting on page 25 of the package. There’s also a map on page 34 of the package, showing the 13 locations throughout Banff where rental bikes are already available.
While bike share sounds at first like a good fit for Banff, we might get a better bang for our buck by concentrating on making sure that visitors can find the existing rental locations, and that there are lots (and lots) of bike racks for people to use. The one area that does not seem to be well-served is Tunnel Mountain (campgrounds and hotels), so perhaps a solution that focuses on that area would be a good idea. Needless to say, any bike share system there would involve a lot of ferrying of bikes back up the hill.
Street banner policy
Council will be asked to look at a draft policy on street banners (the rectangular banners that hang on poles in the downtown and along St Julien). The policy covers aspects such as design, length of hanging, how much area can be covered by the name and logo of a sponsor, fees, etc. You can see the whole report starting on page 44 of the package.
I think this is a good first attempt, but I have some suggestions to make to council. I will be asking that the references to national park and world heritage site values be returned to the draft policy (they are presently proposed for removal). I also will be asking to diminish the area on banners that can be covered by commercial sponsor names and logos, and to tighten up the criteria for applying for a fee waiver. Right now, almost everyone is covered by the categories shown on the waiver application. There is a real cost to taxpayers every time we hang these banners, and waiving the fees makes it impossible to recover that cost.
Council will be asked to approve an $11K public art project to create three pieces of art that will hang outdoors for 6 months each. Then a smaller indoor version of the same pieces will be framed and hung in the town’s permanent collection. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m distressed to see us spending our few public art dollars on temporary work, when the permanent sculptures are so well loved by residents and visitors alike. I wonder whether this money could have been a “lead contribution” toward a fund to keep the bear at the Whyte Museum in Banff, for example. I’m also concerned that the proposed hanging location (on the back of Town Hall, facing the alley) will be seen by relatively few people. I will be asking whether a different, more prominent location could be considered.
Increases to Kids Kampus fees
Starting on page 62 of the package, a report details proposed increases to the fees for Kids Kampus, the program that provides activities for children in Grades 1 – 6 on days when school is not in session. While I understand the need for the fee increase, I will be checking to ensure that we are communicating with the parents affected, and that they will receive reasonable warning of the increases.
Council will be briefed “in camera” on some items related to the operation of the wastewater treatment plant, because some of the information that will be shared is confidential business information belonging to EPCOR, our contractor. Council does not make any decisions or pass any motions when it is “in camera”. Any decisions resulting from this discussion will be made in a public meeting.
THE FINE PRINT
As always, any opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. This post does not purport to represent the point of view of the Town of Banff or its Council.