Best Bar None Comes to Banff
An accreditation program that recognizes excellence in the hospitality/liquor licence trade is coming to Banff. Best Bar None officially launches February 26 in the community. Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) program specialist David Young spoke to council about the program that promotes best practices in the bar industry, especially as it relates to customer and staff safety. Bars can apply for accreditation at http://bestbarnone.ca
and are evaluated on policies, staff training, a physical assessment of the facility, and employee interviews. Annual accreditation shows a business’s commitment to service and a safe environment. Best Bar None was invited into the community by Banff Bar Watch, a network run by local businesses. The program will be a partnership between Banff Bar Watch, AGLC, the RCMP, the Town of Banff, and the Banff and Lake Louise Hospitality Association. The program, developed in the UK, is currently operating in Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge and Grande Prairie, with over 160 bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants in Alberta accredited in the program.
New Social Assessment Shows Banff’s Strengths and Issues to Tackle
Council adopted the 2018 Banff Community Social Assessment as a guide for future municipal social planning and program development. Over the past year, information was gathered from interviews with over 700 residents, input from organizations, and federal data. The report provides a snapshot of life in Banff, trends in areas like income and demographics, and identifies strengths and needs in the community. This is the third report of this type, with other published in 2006 and 2014.
The input gathered over the summer was analyzed and summarized into themes. About 230 residents reviewed the summaries in the fall to validate the strengths and needs in our community.
The top five strengths/assets themes:
- Small Town Community Feel – Residents appreciate what they describe as a “small town community feel.” Many assets such as optimism, positive energy, people caring about each other, recognizing and knowing people and the friendliness of everyone were all mentioned.
- Appreciation of Nature and Environmental Stewardship – This theme resonated with every age and all community sectors. The community cherishes the outdoors, fresh air, access to trails, ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, environmental stewardship and being surrounded by like-minded people who respect our responsibilities within a national park.
- Quality and Variety of Services, Amenities and Programs – People value and appreciate the variety of services and facilities available in such a small town. Of note: transit, medical services, recreation facilities, arts and culture.
- Abundant Work Availability – This was cited by the immigrant and young adult populations as a main reason behind why people are here and why they stay. There is a confidence that there is always work.
- Population Diversity – Diversity was identified by almost every conversation group as a unique asset in Banff.
Top five challenges:
- Cost of Living – The most prevalent theme that emerged throughout this assessment was related to affordability and the costs of living in Banff.
- Living Where the World Visits – There is concern about the growth of tourism and the impact on the quality of life for residents, wildlife safety, and traffic pressures.
- Community Wellness – A number of findings emerged that were grouped into this theme. A sense of stress was described as being caused by a number of factors, including housing cost and availability, low wages, difficulty finding childcare, lack of family time because people are working so many hours, concerns about wildfire, wildlife health, and busy traffic during peak visitor times.
- Places and Spaces for Socialization and Recreation – Residents want places to gather. Banff residents know there are limited places where this can happen, so there is a keen interest in exploring ways that existing places can be used differently. Indoor and outdoor “community hubs” were identified, with easy access in terms of routes to get there, and hours of operation.
- Shared Understanding – In the age of abundant information and varying ways to learn and engage about a host of topics, residents identified a need for more plain language (less “government-speak”) to be used when providing information from the municipality. There is also a desire for that information to be easier to find.
The Community Social Assessment included data from federal census and tax information. Key findings include:
- Banff has a young population with the largest segment being 25 to 29 years old, which is 13% of our total population, while for Alberta, that segment represents under 8% of the total population.
- Banff’s median age is 35; Alberta’s median age is 41
- Banff has had very little population growth between 2011 and 2016, and the lowest growth out of 10 communities (for comparison: Banff grew by 3.5%; Canmore grew 13.9%; Cochrane grew 47.1%)
- 82% of Banff residents who filed taxes have an annual income below $60,000, compared to 65% in Canmore
- 20% of Banff residents are classified as low income, as compared to 14% for Alberta, 9% in Canmore and 24% in Whistler
- Rental housing vacancy rate in Banff is 0.6%, and 11.7% in Alberta
- 11.6% of Banff residents live in what Statistic Canada classify as “unsuitable dwellings” based on crowding due to an insufficient number of bedrooms in a household for occupancy. This compares to 3% in Canmore, 4.5% in Alberta, and 5.7% in Jasper
While the report has provided some high level areas of focus, further recommendations and specific approaches and action plans will be developed in coming months.
Time will be spent sharing the findings with community groups and organizations and an executive summary document highlighting the primary findings will be produced wider public distribution.
In previous years, the Community Social Assessment has acted as a catalyst for a series of actions and programs that have benefited the community.
The full report on the Community Social Assessment is available at banff.ca/talking
Banff Continues Solar Incentive Program in 2019
Council allocated up to $50,000 to fund the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Incentive Program for 2019. Funds will come from the Environmental Reserve to provide an incentive for residents and businesses to invest in solar energy.
The town offers an up-front rebate program in which participants are funded at a rate of $0.75/Watt of solar capacity installed, to a maximum of 7.5 kW; retroactive to January 1.
The Banff rebate can be combined with the current provincial incentive program through Energy Efficiency Alberta, which provides a rate of $0.90/Watt residential and $0.75/Watt commercial of solar capacity installed.
Council also directed administration to continue to waive development and building permit fees associated with these installations. This program launched in 2015, and saw 14 solar systems installed. In 2016, seven were installed, and in 2017, 11 were installed. In 2018, six systems were installed, including a 10 kW system on the HI Banff Alpine Centre.