Banff closer to banning business-created food scraps, recyclables going to landfill
Council passed two readings of a bylaw that would ban the business sector from placing food scraps and recyclable materials into garbage bins that go to landfill. The final bylaw reading is expected at an upcoming meeting, but would not be in effect until October, and enforcement would be delayed until 2023.
The cost to have separated organics collected to go to a composting facility is cheaper than for garbage collection that goes to landfill.
This bylaw follows several council decisions to reduce waste and promote increased recycling. In 2018, Council adopted a comprehensive roadmap called the Options for Waste Diversion Targets and Tactics report, and it is guiding increasing waste diversion for the Town of Banff. Council also adopted a target of 70% waste diversion by 2028 and zero waste to landfill by 2050.
One of the tactics listed in the roadmap was a ban on materials that would require all non-residential sector entities to separate designated banned materials from garbage. The non-residential sector is comprised of businesses, organizations, and institutions, and is responsible for approximately 65% of all solid waste generated in Banff. Results from a 2015-2016 waste characterization study showed that almost 50% of Banff’s non-residential waste going to landfill consists of food scraps and food-soiled paper that could have been diverted for composting. It is also estimated that an additional 16.6% of all non-residential waste to landfill comes from mixed recyclable materials including paper, glass, plastic, and metal.
If passed, the Town will take an education-first approach to this bylaw, with enforcement available as a subsequent option. If recyclables and organics are not separated from the landfill stream, Town staff would contact the owners, provide educational resources, and collaborate with the establishment for up to one month, with a goal becoming compliant with the law.
Should the bylaw receive third reading, enforcement would not be implemented until 2023, to allow for an extended grace period acknowledging that some types of establishments may need time to adjust operational systems.
Town of Banff’s 2021 surplus put in ‘rainy day’ reserve
Lower wages, higher development permit revenue, and more than expected grant funding led to a $6 million surplus over the 2021 budget, with $800,000 available for council allocation.
Council voted to transfer the 2021 unrestricted surplus of $802,077.49 to the Budget Stabilization Reserve. The Town’s financial plan indicates the need to build up the reserve over time, primarily with surpluses, to be ready to address unforeseen future financial requirements.
According to the Town’s Financial Plan: “Budget surpluses from prior year operating results are retained and used in the following years to stabilize the annual tax increase and provide funding for non-recurring (one-time) expenditures.”
The total net surplus in 2021 was $6.3 million. This consists of $6.5 million in amortization expense, $12 million in restricted surplus (which means these must be allocated as previously determined) and $802,000 of unrestricted surplus for 2021.
The overall surplus was caused by a number of factors, including:
- The Town of Banff’s wages/benefits/overtime was $476,000 less than budgeted, resulting in a total of $726,000 in total reductions in wages, benefits and overtime
- Building permits were $336,000 more than budgeted
- Development permits were $106,000 more than budgeted
- Advertising and promotions costs were $90,000 lower than budgeted due to in-house savings and reductions due to COVID impact on programs
- Municipal savings earned $48,000 more than budgeted due to higher than expected investment earnings
- The provincial MSI operating grant was $29,000 higher than expected
- Training and conference travel was $130,000 lower than budgeted due to COVID restrictions or virtual training opportunities
- Visitor pay parking revenue was $183,000 higher than budgeted
- Parks Canada reduced Land Rent to the Town by $34,000
- Rental facilities were $14,000 more than expected
The reduced spending and higher revenue than budgeted resulted in an operating surplus, despite reduced revenue in a number of areas, including:
- traffic/parking fines (-$534,000)
- lower event permit revenue (-$16,000)
- ATCO franchise fees (-$77,000)
- Fenlands sales and ice rentals (-$244,000)
- recreation program and courses fees (-$91,000)
- street use permits (-$70,000)
- fewer transit bus passes (-$17,000)
- lower garbage collection revenue from Canmore and ID9 (-$71,000)
- Town commercial garbage collection reduction (-$11,000)
Municipal census postponed
Council voted to postpone the municipal census that was scheduled for 2022 and instead hold it in 2023. Municipal censuses are typically conducted the year after a federal census to help validate or refine results.
The last federal census was in 2021 and top-level results were released in February 2022. The Town of Banff’s population was reported as 8,305 by the federal census. This year, however, the Town’s contracted census software provider will not be providing any census services as they are overhauling their system. Several municipalities in Alberta cancelled their census due to the software being unavailable. Census software allows in-person enumerators to quickly add data on residents to the official count, while allowing others to complete the census online, and the software ensures no duplication. There are very few alternate software providers, as municipal censuses are not common in other jurisdictions.
The last two municipal censuses involved online responses that made use of the software (typically around 40% to 50% of responses) as well as in-person enumeration.
Municipal census figures were traditionally used by the Government of Alberta in calculating per capita grant amounts, however that approach has changed to provincially developed population estimates by the Office of Statistics and Information at Alberta Treasury Board and Finance. The federal census will provide the baseline for estimating annual populations in the future. In response, many municipalities have adjusted their approach to municipal census. Of the 19 municipalities who responded to Town of Banff inquiries, nine indicated they were not going to conduct a municipal census, six were waiting until 2023, and four were moving forward with a census in 2022 without the software provider.
The approved budget of $35,400 will be moved to 2023. Transfers to reserves to pay for the next census will be deferred as well for one year resulting in a budget savings of $11,800.
The census conducted by the federal government does not account for the shadow population of seasonal workers or the visitor-adjusted population. The Town recommends factoring in shadow populations and visitor-adjusted populations when calculating per capita government grants to Banff because municipal services and programs serve these larger populations.