$6 million for COVID relief
The Town of Banff has received a $6 million grant to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
The Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) program, funded from the governments of Alberta and Canada, is designed to assist municipalities that have experience significant operating impacts due to the pandemic. The Town of Banff saw significant losses in revenues in 2020 such as reduced business license revenues, utility revenues, recreation facility rentals and parking and traffic fine revenue. There were also significant additional costs related to the purchase of protective equipment, signage and communications, hardware and software to allow remote work and the costs associated with the downtown pedestrian zone.
Council allocated the funds to different areas impacted by the pandemic, including:
- $2,462,000 to the general capital reserve, $383,000 to the water reserve and $695,000 to the sewer reserve
- $414,747 to the transit operating reserve to offset future net transit losses and/or future transit initiatives
- $200,000 to fund further COVID related safety initiatives during 2020, like communications or the purchase of cleaning materials/sanitizers
- $256,000 to the budget stabilization reserve to cover previously approved expenditures for 2020 safety protocols
- $1,602,551 to a COVID-19 Economic Recovery Reserve
Council also directed administration to return to the Governance and Finance Committee with a draft policy on how the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Reserve will be managed.
Financing approved for housing development
Council gave three readings to a borrowing bylaw that will fund the new Banff Avenue Housing Project.
The bylaw gives the Town authority to borrow up to $11,375,000 to finance the project. Council also amended the 2020-2029 capital budget to include expenditures of $400,000 in 2020 and $10,975,000 in 2021 for the construction of the Banff Avenue Affordable Housing project. The construction is to be debt financed and then repaid through the resale of the units upon completion.
At the October 13 meeting of council, an architect was selected for the 33 unit affordable, for-purchase housing development at 338-342 Banff Avenue. It will have a mix of one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units with an estimated unit sale prices ranging from $450,000 to $695,000. Learn more about the project at https://banff.ca/1089/Banff-Avenue-Affordable-Housing-Developm
The Town of Banff is urging extra vigilance this Halloween to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Council heard at their regular COVID-19 update from director of emergency management Silvio Adamo that communication has gone out to residents about practicing a safe Halloween. In addition, the local health authority, firefighters, and RCMP will be doing compliance checks this Saturday evening at local establishments to ensure safety protocols are being met.
As part of the communication, residents were told they should not feel compelled to hand out candy this year. If residents choose not to, leave outdoor lights off or use a poster from the Government of Alberta https://www.alberta.ca/halloween-during-covid19.aspx, indicating candy is not being handed out. If choosing to hand out candy, wear a mask, and maintain a two-metre/six-foot distance. This can be done creatively with a candy slide, a long grabber/picker, or a table used to maintain the distance requirements. Candy should not be left unattended.
Parents should not feel compelled to send their children out to trick-or-treat. If going out, the Emergency Coordination Centre asks residents to remain within their neighbourhood, rather than driving to other locations. Minimize contact with others and trick-or-treat only with family or cohorts. Additionally, choose costumes that allow a mask to be worn underneath. Costume masks are not a substitute for an approved cloth or surgical mask that covers one’s nose and mouth. When trick-or-treating, avoid touching doorbells or railings and instead call out “trick-or-treat.” Upon returning home, wash hands and disinfect candy packages or set aside for 72 hours before consuming.
Most importantly, children and their chaperones should not go out trick-or-treating if they are sick, and anyone who is ill should not hand out candy.