Council update, April 12, 2008

Hello everyone:

 What a beautiful spring day it is out there!  A few notes on Council doings, and then I'm off for a long walk.

In this message, there's information about what happened at the March 25 meeting, what is coming to Council on April 14, and also a couple of items that are coming on April 28 that I'd like to get your input on.


Since I didn't provide a council update before the last meeting, I thought you might like to hear about a few of the things from that agenda:

  • Caribou Properties presented the Town with a generous donation of $100,000 toward the pedestrian bridge, and a promise of $200,000 more for a second pedestrian bridge downstream.  This leaves the Town with $384,000 still to raise to reach the  $500,000 fundraising target.
  • I provided an update on the work of the Bow River Basin Council, and especially on their draft plan for water quality in the Bow River.  You can see information about this plan on their website:
  • Council voted to spend up to $100,000 for an A-list Canadian band to provide a free concert on Banff Avenue in mid to late July, in order to celebrate the completion of the Banff Avenue reconstruction.  Councillor Macdonald and I voted against this motion.  Besides worrying about the cost, the impact on newly-planted landscaping, the impact on Banff Avenue merchants, and the effect of putting all the event dollars into one type of entertainment, I am concerned that it will reinforce an image of Banff as a "party town" that just happens to be in a mountain setting, rather than the image of Banff as the visitor base for the national park.  Perhaps I'm out to lunch, though, because I was assured by staff in the meeting that they have talked to Parks and Parks Canada has endorsed this concert as a good idea.  Other councillors and staff feel strongly that this is the right way to go, and I know they will put their best efforts into making it a successful event.
  • The municipal assessor and Tom Maier did a great presentation on how assessment of property for tax purposes works.  This is something few people understand, and yet it's important to all property-owners -- I'm going to ask for their PowerPoint to be put up on the Town's website, because it's so educational.
  • Council finished the amendments to the Business Licence Bylaw that were initiated as part of the Family Day Homes discussion.


It's a pretty light agenda, as you can see at


A few highlights:

  • Banff, as a member of the Calgary Regional Partnership, is being asked to support a major funding request to the provincial government to plan for better transit connections between all the neighbouring municipalities in the region.  If the province provides the funding, this plan would help the Calgary area ensure that new development is transit-friendly, that locations for transit facilities and services are identified and protected, and that a governance model for regional transportation is in effect.  We probably won't be directly affected by this, because we're already working on our own regional transit commission, but it's certainly a good initiative to support, and will not require any funding from the Town of Banff. 

  • Council is being asked to remove the "maximum amount' cap from building permit fees for single family and duplex housing.  You can see the report by going to  and scrolling down to page 30.  My initial feeling is that this could be phased in, rather than implemented all at once, but I have a list of questions to ask before I vote on this one.

  • The colourful "wraps" for the new hybrid transit buses appear to cost more than the original estimate, and Council will be asked on Monday to approve the additional $12,200.  Parks Canada is kindly funding $45,000 of this project, because the wraps will be images of park wildlife, and there will be interpretive panels inside the buses.  You can see the full report at   , scroll down to page 41
  • There is a letter from Alberta Municipal Affairs on the agenda, committing to a grant of $75,000 from the provincial government to help with the organization of a Regional Transportation Authority.  You'll remember that this is the joint project with the town, Canmore and ID9, along with various stakeholder groups, organizing a regional transportation authority/commission.  Having an integrated system of public transportation throughout our region is so important -- it's great to see this project moving ahead.



The following items are scheduled to come to council on April 28:

  • The Town's purchasing policy:  this is coming back because of a discussion we have had about how to interpret the section about purchasing goods or services from Council members, staff members, or their immediate family.  I feel very strongly that this automatically creates the potential for a conflict of interest, and that all such purchases should be subject to rigorous controls, that such purchases should be made public, and that we should avoid "single-sourcing" from a councillor or staff member.  Some other folks feel that I am over-reacting, that most such purchases do not result in conflicts of interest, and that purchases from Council members or staffers can be handled more or less the same way as all other purchases, except in highly unusual cases.  What do you think?  Is this an issue, or am I blowing it out of proportion?

  • Wayfinding: the draft report for new directional signage will come to Council.

  • Bylaw annual statistics and new uniform standards:  I'm curious to know what you think about bylaw officer uniforms.  Most enforcement agencies -- our own included -- have gone for dark uniforms (dark shirts, dark pants).  I'd like to see us return to light-coloured shirts.  I think lighter colours make the officers look friendlier and more approachable.  Do you agree?  Or are you happy with the darker uniforms?

  • Parking downtown:  we'll be getting follow-up reports on the timelines and costs for the options that are still on the table -- increasing occupancy in Cascade, changing Bear Street over to 1-hour and 3-hour only, acquiring land to add a lot to the Beaver Street surface parking, etc.

  • Pedestrian bridge update:  I expect staff will be reporting back on how the design work and the fundraising are going.

  • Taxation rate:  finalizing the "mill rate" for residential and non-residential taxes.



It’s important to note that these council updates represent my personal opinion, and may not reflect the official position of the Town of Banff or Banff Town Council. 

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