Town seeks input on communications plan for Bear Street reconstruction
Bear Street businesses and residents will be asked for input on communications and marketing to promote the street during redevelopment. The 200 block of Bear Street is scheduled to undergo renewal in 2020 to replace ageing underground utilities, and transform the road into a shared street that’s more inviting to pedestrians. The Bear Street Shared Street project will add public seating, patio space, trees and landscaping, more parking for people with mobility challenges, and an integrated sidewalk/road design. Over four summers, the Town piloted designs with temporary seating, café patios and landscaping, to prepare for a permanent concept. The renewal will create a better visitor experience to the street consisting of shopping, dining and services. Evidence from other municipalities suggests a more walkable street will provide economic benefits to the Bear Street businesses. The reconstruction in 2020 will rebuild the sidewalks and road surface at the same time as renewal of drainage, sewer and water main systems, to avoid reconstruction of the same street in different years.
The Bear Street renewal will extend the Banff Refreshing design standards developed for the Banff Avenue reconstruction in 2007. The Town is proposing a communications on par with Banff Refreshing marketing used to maintain business and visitation. The proposed communications includes pre-construction strategies, marketing during construction, and a wrap-up activity. Town staff will be meeting with businesses and residents to develop the plan, and will request funding from council during budget deliberations. Bear Street business owners and residents interested in participating and sharing their input on construction communications are asked to submit contact information at banff.ca/BearStreet.
Town to consult with stakeholders on single-use plastic reduction strategy
A study of the Town of Banff’s waste shows more than 11% of garbage going to landfill is made up of plastics. This week, council was presented a report that examined several waste streams to determine how much of the waste is comprised of single-use plastics such as thin-film grocery bags, cutlery, straws, cups and food containers. While the study was unable to calculate the exact weight or volume of single-use plastic in the Town of Banff, the audit shows single-use plastic items are a small overall contributor to total waste created in the town. However, they are the primary source of waste that contaminates recycling and organics bins. In addition, single-use plastics were very prevalent in audits of pedestrian sidewalk bins, which make up 3% of all waste collected in Banff. Finally, an audit of litter collected from around town showed that single-use plastics made up the largest portion of the litter. Single-use plastics are being restricted in other communities around the world and in Canada, to reduce waste locally and to inspire global reductions. Council directed administration to consult with key stakeholders such as businesses about reducing single-use items. A survey of the best practices in other jurisdictions suggests that stakeholder engagement is an effective first step in the development of a single-use items reduction strategy. Stakeholder engagement provides an opportunity for municipalities to understand challenges that various stakeholders may face with the reduction or elimination of single-use plastics prior to policy change.
Commemorative tree program approved
Council approved a policy that will allow the public to purchase commemorative trees and dedication plaques in Banff. This is in addition to the current memorial bench program. This gives groups or individuals the opportunity to make a dedicated for 10, 20 or 30 years with a renewal option. Trees will be planted on public property between May and October each year. The policy includes a full cost recovery model where operating expenses are completely covered by program subscribers.
Affordable housing update
Council received its annual update on Banff’s Housing Strategy, an initiative to stimulate a supply affordable housing options to Banff residents. Highlights from the report show that in 2018, Banff had 173 new units issued occupancy permits, and an additional 57 units were under construction, with occupancy permits pending. In total since 2013, Banff has had 245 new units issued occupancy permits. The vast majority of these are rental apartments, which help Banff move towards the target of 1% rental vacancy. In 2018, the vacancy rate was listed at 0.6%. The report also identified the successful partnership with Parks Canada to acquire land for housing within the town boundaries, including for the Tinu Apartments and a future complex on Cave Avenue. The Government of Alberta’s $12 million grant for the Tinu affordable housing project showed support for the Banff initiative, which added 131 affordable rental units to the town. The Town of Banff will begin development next year on price-reduced purchase housing on Banff Ave.