Council update, June 21-22, 2008

Happy summer solstice, everyone -- I hear that the summer solstice float was at an all-time high, with 38 canoes!

Here are some highlights of what has been in front of Council recently, and will be in front of Council on Monday:


Well, as you may know from reading the paper, my initiative on financial disclosure went nowhere.  Thanks to the folks who sent supportive comments after the meeting!  A couple of people have asked me why I thought this was important, so I just want to take a moment to show you what is required of town councillors in British Columbia.

First, they must disclose their financial interests, including:

  • The name of each corporation in which they hold one or more shares

  • The name of each creditor to whom they owe a debt, with a few exceptions (such as  their house mortgages)

  • The name of each business or organization located in their town from which they receive financial remuneration.

  • All lands other than their personal residence in which they own an interest

  • Similar information to the above for any corporation in which they own a 30% or higher share

Then, if they enter into a contract with the municipality while they are serving councillors, or anytime within the first six months after they leave office, that contract has to be announced at the next council meeting open to the public.

It seems to me that citizens in British Columbia are given the opportunity to know about council members' financial interests and business dealings with the municipality without having to ask. I thought that was a good standard of transparency, worth trying to introduce here. 

In British Columbia, councillors have to file all this information at the Town Hall, and any resident can view the information on request.  Since I think this is important, here's what I've decided to do.  I will prepare a summary of the above information, as it applies to me and my husband.  Any resident of Banff who wants to see it can just send me an email with their mailing address, and I'll mail it out to them.  That way, I'll personally be providing the disclosure that I believe is important. 

Do let me know if you want a copy!


Public hearing is Monday at 2 pm.  I sent out an email on this already, but I just want to add one thing. 

Several people have mentioned on their questionnaires that they are disappointed that first reading was passed by council, that it happened before the comments due date, etc.  Unfortunately, I think the standard process that we always follow has led to some confusion.

In order to get a bylaw amendment on the table for discussion, Council has to pass first reading.  Voting for first reading doesn't mean that people support the bylaw - it just means that they agree that it needs to be discussed and to have a public hearing so that all points of view can be heard. They're just saying "This issue is out there and needs to be discussed, and we need to invite the public to join that discussion in a formal way, as required by our land use bylaw and the Municipal Government Act".

 If you look at administration's report in the last council package, you'll see that they just recommended first reading and public hearing.  I know that they are committed to a thorough and open public process, and I know that council feels the same.  At the end of the process, a decision may be made to pass the amendment, to defeat it, to postpone it (as some of you have suggested), or to change the way it's written and consider that new version.  Nothing is predetermined at this point. I hope that you can make it to the public hearing, or provide your comments on a comment form.  To see how, go to, and click on the Cave Avenue link on the front page. 


You'll find an interesting and thorough description of the town's employee development program in the report that goes with this request -- you'll see it at  starting on page 75.  I'm going to listen to the case for this carefully, and weigh the pros and cons.  However, a major concern for me is that the Town is already forecasting going over budget in 2008.  With that in mind, I'll be asking where else we're going to cut if we want to make this change possible. 


Bow Valley Regional Housing has recently made an offer to purchase the Abbeyfield House building at the corner of Beaver and Wolf, to provide seniors' housing. The Provincial Government is providing the majority of the funding for the purchase and renovation of the building. In order to finance the remainder of the purchase price and renovations, the five member municipalities of the BVRH need to contribute $636,600 towards the project. The Town of Banff portion of this amount is 23.7% or $150,874, and the recommendation is that the Town borrow this for a term under 5 years.  This loan would be paid back through the taxes levied by the Bow Valley Regional Housing group -- these taxes show up as part of your municipal tax bill. 

This seems like a reasonable approach to increasing the amount of housing available in our community for Banff seniors who are no longer able to live entirely independently. 


There's a report in the council package about the transit bus pass program, the taxi pass program, and the Banff/Canmore community bus program -- all initiatives to help low-income, handicapped or senior residents get around for errands, appointments, etc.  You can read about these programs at by scrolling to page 100

Council is being asked to extend the low income transit pass program (which has been running as a pilot program) on a permanent basis.  At present, 26 individuals are helped by this program.  The costs to the Town are negligible, and the help to people who need it seems worthwhile!


The owners of 333 Muskrat have applied to add their property to the town's heritage registry.  333 Muskrat was built in the late 19-teens by James Anderson, and was in the Anderson family until the late 80s.  It's a B-ranked property in excellent shape. This puts a total of 52 properties on the Town's heritage registry.


The Town has been asked to look at whether handicapped parking stalls should be provided right on Banff Avenue, as opposed to just in the parking lots one block off.  Administration is recommending that we not do this, saying that it would require handicapped drivers to load/unload with traffic going right by them, and would pose a safety hazard.  They're recommending that we consider increasing the snow and ice control between the existing stalls and Banff Avenue, as the problem of getting to Banff Avenue seems to be mostly a winter problem.


As always, this blog entry expresses my view and opinions only - it does not in any way pretend to represent the official opinion of the Council or the Town of Banff.