Town proposes more smoke-free public places
Banff Town Council is considering revising a bylaw to make more public places smoke free. Although smoking or vaping cannabis is banned in all public places in Banff, tobacco smoking is currently allowed in many places.
A revised bylaw would further restrict smoking or vaping of tobacco in the following areas, where provincial legislation currently permits smoking:
- Municipal parks/parkettes/green spaces
- Trails and Pathways
- Outdoor markets
- Outdoor events
- Bus stops
- Public sidewalks and pedestrian zones and;
- Smoking in proximity to children not in one’s custody, care or control
If the bylaw is passed, smoking or vaping of tobacco would be effectively limited to private property, surface parking lots or alleys, as long as the smoking is more than five metres from sidewalks and trails. Also, smoking would need to be more than five metres from public doorways and windows, as currently required in provincial legislation. The proposed bylaw changes also exempts the use of tobacco in Indigenous ceremonies.
Council passed first reading of the bylaw, and will review again in late 2022, to give time for members of the public to submit letters to council or to prepare to speak at the public session when the bylaw comes for second and third reading.
Threshold for building permits increased
Council amended the Building Permit Bylaw to increase the cost threshold that would trigger the requirement for a building permit, from $5,000 to $10,000. The Banff Building Permit Bylaw has remained relatively unchanged since 1996 and the recent inflationary pressures suggested the previous threshold is too low. If a renovation or upgrade is valued at under $10,000, then a building permit is not required. However, a building permit would still be required for construction where matters of health and safety are involved, no matter the cost, such as the installation of a wood-burning fireplace.
Council hears proposal to burn waste for energy
The Southern Alberta Energy from Waste Association (SAEWA) provided Banff Town Council with an update on a proposal to create a facility that would incinerate non-recyclable waste from member communities and convert it to energy, as a strategy to reduce waste going to landfill. The project is modeled after similar initiatives in Durham/York Ontario and Metro Vancouver.
The proposal would see up to 300,000 tonnes of waste processed in a facility each year, in a process that would incinerate materials and turn turbines that the association estimates will produce up to 50 megawatts of power. The association claims the process could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 230,000 tonnes over the life of the project.
The financing strategy for the multi-million-dollar infrastructure has not been finalized, but could involve direct contribution from municipalities, a public-private partnership or a purely private venture. The association selected Newell County, near the Town of Brooks, as the preferred location. The association has asked for expressions of interest from the private sector for the technology in the venture. The group is seeking support from the federal and provincial governments.
Banff focuses on circular economy initiatives
Town Council indicated they would consider a contribution of $5,000 in the 2023 budget debates towards funding the operations of the Library of Things program. The pilot project housed at the Banff Public Library was launched in 2021 allows residents to borrow objects such as carpentry tools, cookware and household appliances. The program helps people with hobbies or home projects avoid having to buy equipment, which can be costly and hard to store. Since launching, more than 300 people have registered for the free program, and more than 1,100 items have been in circulation. The most popular items are the carpet cleaner, a circular saw, a drill driver and an air fryer. The project also hosted two repair workshops. Learn more about the Library of Things.
The Library of Things is part of an initiative to shift more activities in Banff to a circular economy. A traditional linear economy has items produced, bought, used or consumed, then thrown away. A circular economy emphasizes reusing, repairing, recycling and recovering items rather than sending items to landfill after one person uses the product. Circular economies reduce emissions because fewer items need to use energy for manufacturing and transportation, and they reduce costs for participants and reduce the need for storage space. The Town is exploring other areas in our community that could adopt circular economy practices of sharing, like the Library of Things, or reuse and repair.
Banff has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, and cut waste going to landfill by 70% diversion by 2028 and zero waste going to landfill by 2050.