What's on my Banff menu this month?
The Banff Railway Station
Last month Liricon Capital, the private company that leases the Banff Railway station land and owns Mount Norquay ski resort, cut down a huge swath of trees just east of the railway station. The Town approved Liricon’s proposal to build a 500-vehicle parking lot that is expected to be operating in July.
This is one part of a bigger development plan the business proposes: commercial development around the railroad station; and a gondola from the station to Mount Norquay. What are the tradeoffs for public policy?
My questions for you are:
What does the developer want from the Town?
What does the business want from Parks Canada?
Would there be benefits for the park?
I’ve heard from some residents who were shocked at how many trees came down. I've heard from people who are in favour of this project’s goal to intercept tourist’s cars before they come into the town. I've heard from people who want clearer discussion of what is in the interest of a private business, and what is in the interest of the public in our national park.
Read about the rail station redevelopment plans here (links to http://banff.ca/index.aspx?NID=1028), and then let me know if you are:
strongly in favour
mildly in favour
And if you’d like to invite me to a discussion with a group of your friends, I’ll be pleased to join.
Banff’s mock wildfire emergency exercise on May 8
If you live on the south side of Banff, you are scheduled to get a visit on Wednesday May 8 from emergency response team members.
The Town of Banff and Parks Canada are planning to conduct a full-day emergency exercise based on the threat of wildfires. This mock exercise is to respond as if a fictitious wildfire were approaching the town from the west, and is supposed to include emergency personnel training at command centres based in the Fire Hall and Town Hall. First responders are to visit all homes on the south side of the river.
My questions for you are:
· What was your opinion of the exercise specifically, and the Town & Park’s Canada’s overall readiness for defending our homes and lives from a wildlfire threat?
· Are we elected officials doing enough to counter the wildfire threat, and to protect our citizens and property?
· Is there info that you want but aren’t getting?
· And what are you doing to prepare yourself and your property or business from wildfires?
· Are there aspects of evacuation planning you'd like discussed more openly?
· Have you asked the Fire Department for a free FireSmart inspection of your home?
I encourage every resident and business to prepare now for wildfire threats. Sign up for the emergency alerts at: http://banff.ca/AlertCenter.aspx . Learn how to create your own evacuation plan and emergency kit by visiting: banff.ca/emergency. Call the Fire Department for a FireSmart inspection.
My communication missteps
I’ve made two missteps, recently.
1. I apologize to anyone who has received an unwanted email from me about Town of Banff matters.
My enthusiasm for communicating about Banff issues, and soliciting community feedback, cannot excuse my failure to abide by privacy legislation. Recently, I shared news about Town of Banff issues to an email list I assembled. The list included an address of someone who had applied for a position with a Town committee. At the time I presumed this committee applicant would want to know about town matters, but in using that person's email, I breached that person’s right to privacy. I have since apologized directly to that person. I've taken an online course about protecting citizens’ contact info.
On a related note, the Town of Banff does not yet have a Code of Conduct Bylaw for Councillors, something required by law for every municipality in Alberta. My misstep highlights the importance of having one in place, as soon as possible, so that public servants can have confidence that they are following the rules. This lack of a Code of Conduct Bylaw is not an excuse of my behaviour. I will be far more rigorous in how & what I share with Banff residents, and part of my rigor is that I am urging the Town Administration to bring a draft Code of Conduct Bylaw to Council, soon. That's scheduled for late June.
Because I want to be helpful, proactive and transparent, every email I send to citizens includes a sentence asking people to let me know if they want to unsubscribe from future mailings. So, if I ever send you an email that you don’t want, I hope you will notify me with a simple “unsubscribe” request. I was elected to bring a new and open voice to Council.
2. I apologize to any employee of the Town of Banff whom I may have made feel uncomfortable if they thought that I was attempting to direct them in how they do their work.
Recently, in my role as a community volunteer, I offered my unsolicited opinion to a hard-working Town staff member whom I encountered in public.
From the perspective of a Town of Banff employee, speaking about a municipal matter with a citizen might be just a conversation, but with a Town Councillor, it might feel like direction, or even pressure. The forthcoming Code of Conduct Bylaw may go some way to clarify those "electric fences" we, as Councillors, are not supposed to cross.
Each of us has multiple roles, as in any small town, and I’m trying to adjust my point of view, in my new role.
Thank you all for giving me the honour of representing your interests on Council.
Please contact me with any concern or question.