Municipal Taxes Increase Less than Inflation
Banff Town Council approved the 2020 capital and operating budgets, establishing the level of service and infrastructure projects for the year. While the rate of inflation is estimated at 2.3% for 2020, the municipal portion of the Town of Banff’s property taxes is set to increase by 2%. This is based on a 1.26% increase to maintain the current level of services in 2020, plus a 0.74% increase to fund new services or enhanced levels of existing services.
The Provincial Education Tax will increase 2.95% in 2020 and the Bow Valley Regional Housing Levy increases incrementally by 0.03%. The municipal portion combined with the Government of Alberta and Bow Valley levies will increase property taxes in Banff by a total of 4.98%. For a typical home assessed at $451,100, the increase will amount to $109.94 for the year, or an additional $9.16 for people on the monthly payment program.
Operating budget increases include transit service enhancements such as the continuation of the On-It Regional Transit Service connecting Banff and Calgary and an increase in frequency of the Canmore-Banff Roam service to run every 30 minutes all day during the summer. Other changes include an increase in the Banff High School Scholarship fund, additional public engagement on wildfire and emergency preparedness, a biomass heating facility, and an investment in the energy transition plan, which aims to reduce costs through energy efficiency measures.
In the capital budget, projects slated to begin in 2020 include reconstruction of St. Julien Road, complete reconstruction of Bear Street, the addition of new Roam buses, a new Transit Storage building to improve servicing of Roam’s growing fleet, a new community columbarium at the Old Banff Cemetery, a continued addition of more food waste residential bins, solar panel installation at the Waste Transfer Station, and investment in the sidewalk improvement and roadway overlay programs.
Huge Effort for Snow Removal
Crews removed the equivalent of 43 football fields worth of snow off roads after December’s major snowfall in the Town of Banff. In an update to council, the streets team outlined their efforts following challenging conditions created by rain, then a high volume of snowfall, followed by a drop in temperature. Approximately 50 cm of snow fell on Banff from December 20-21, 2019, on the already 12 cm of accumulated snow on the ground. Initial temperatures created heavier, wetter snow that was easily compacted, creating icy conditions on roads and sidewalks, and making plowing and snow removal more challenging. Town crews and contractors worked around the busy Christmas season to plow and remove snow. Curb to curb, they removed 22 km of snow from town streets. 125 tonnes of abrasives were used on roads while plowing. The Town’s snow dump can contain up to 320 tandem truck loads, but during this period, the Town removed 1,500 tandem truck loads from 230,000 square metres of area on our local roadways and parking areas. The extra work used up 5,000 more litres of fuel than normally used in this period.
More Information Requested on Bylaw to Close Road
Council voted to receive further information related to the roadway at 514 Deer Street in relation to proposed Bylaw 417 – Road Closure Bylaw. Council did not vote for second and third reading on the bylaw, and instead are asking for information on different options with respect to the grades of the roadway; the possibility for the road to fall under the roads lease; potential planning restrictions on the property; and safety measures that could be put in place.
The lot is leased by the Town of Banff, and has informally operated as access from Deer Street to the back of the neighbouring six properties. A roadway crosses private property on six lots. No agreements exist for the public to use the access on those private leaseholds. Without an agreement between all private leaseholds and with the Town for public access, the Town recommended a formal road closure for the Town’s leased property. In July of 2019, council also leaned of legal and safety concerns with the operation of the lot as a roadway.
The report with additional information will return in the first quarter of 2020.