Parks Canada biologist Karsten Heuer spoke to council as a delegation to give an update about the reintroduction of bison to Banff National Park. Parks Canada is in the final public consultation phase of the plan, collecting input on the detailed environmental impact analysis until November 30, 2016. Should the pilot project go ahead, 16 plains bison from Elk Island National Park could be brought to the park by February 2017. The bison would be initially contained in an 18-ha enclosed pasture in a reintroduction zone located several kilometres north of the townsite. Details of the plan can be viewed at http://www.pc.gc.ca/Banff-bison and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council received a briefing on parking stall occupancy and the potential effects of Policy C122, a policy that allows for the reduction in the amount of required off-street vehicle parking for apartment housing based on a number of site-specific factors. Between 2013 and 2016, the data shows that:
- Parking shortfall (measured at peak parking occupancy) has reduced from a 125 stall shortfall in 2013 to a 62 stall surplus in 2016.
- Total parking tickets issued (for illegal parking and time limit violations) have increased by 131% from 2,912 to 6,722.
- Entrance counter volume for July and August combined has increased by 24% from 1.3M to 1.6M vehicles (both entrances, both directions).
- Private stall occupancy in Zone A (downtown core) was not measured in 2013 or 2014 but between 2015 and 2016 an additional 160 stalls were utilized and occupancy increased from 23% to 51%.
Council reviewed Policy C122 and made several amendments to the policy, which was first adopted in February 2014. Council made the motion that if the parking policy is applied to a development, parking must be provided to tenants for free and on a first come, first serve basis. They also changed the wording of the measurement methodologies to make it clearer and voted to include maps with the policy for additional clarity. They voted to create a specific cash-in-lieu fee within the policy of $75,000 plus a 2% per year inflationary rate per stall, and stronger wording around the restrictive covenant placed on title to ensure applications that make use of C122 do not subdivide. In addition to the amendments to the policy, council asked administration to bring a report to service review on expanding the on-street parking monitoring program to collect more data, and for questions to be included in the 2017 municipal census to determine the number of vehicles per dwelling unit.
Council approved a new 2017 capital project to invest in the expansion of the new Banff Elementary School gym. Council committed $961,909 from the general capital reserves to make the gymnasium full size, allowing it to be used by the community after hours and on weekends. Council had previously committed funding for the new school’s showers and storage facility, but had not committed funds to a larger gym because two already existed in the community – one at the high school and one at the Banff Centre. With the Banff Centre’s Sally Borden gym being repurposed into a weight room and yoga studio next year, council opted to take advantage of the elementary school’s construction to fund a larger gym space so two full size gyms remain in the community.
Council voted to approve the Housing Incentive Purchase Program C2003 and repeal the current policy C112. The new policy expands the Town of Banff employee purchase program outside the town, but within the Bow Valley. The program encourage employee retention by providing an interest free loan to staff buying their first home in the Bow Valley.
Council received correspondence from residents along Buffalo Street regarding memorial benches.
Council postponed reviewing the 2017 temporary borrowing bylaw, the body worn cameras policy, the travel expenses policy and the capital projects update until the next meeting, scheduled for November 28.