Mask Bylaw Extended
The Temporary Mask Bylaw will continue inside publicly accessible buildings and outside on sidewalks in the downtown core. Council gave three readings to the bylaw to extend its use after the downtown pedestrian zone closed and Banff Avenue re-opened to traffic. Masks will still be required on sidewalks in the 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue, the 200 block of Bear Street, and sections of Wolf and Caribou Streets. There is no end date associated with the bylaw, but due to its temporary nature, it will be brought back to council regularly for review. Residents are able to pick up a supply of masks for free from Town Hall during regular business hours. More information on the bylaw is available at https://banff.ca/covidmasks
Municipal Facilities Reduce Energy and Emissions
Council received a briefing on the 2019 Facilities Energy and Emissions Annual Report.
Banff municipal buildings saw a slight decrease in energy consumption in 2019, and an increase in natural gas consumption. The decrease can be attributed to drop in electricity consumption at the Fenlands Recreation Centre due to a shorter ice season and efforts to reduce energy consumption at The Fenlands, and large reductions in electricity consumption at the Wastewater Treatment Plant and Waste Transfer Station due to fuel switching and equipment shutdowns. The increase in natural gas consumption is attributed to colder winter temperatures. The cost of electricity is higher than natural gas, making strategies to reduce electricity use more impactful on cost savings and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Roughly 45% of municipal energy use is dedicated to extracting fresh water from the town’s aquifer, pumping water and wastewater around the community, and treating it at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. In 2019, the amount of water extracted from the town’s aquifer reduced by 2.2% compared to 2018, which correlates with decreasing electricity consumption. Less water usage may be associated with more residents/businesses switching to low flow fixtures, but is also attributed to the ongoing work of the Water Services team in finding and fixing leaks in underground water infrastructure.
Municipally owned solar arrays collectively produced 295 MWh of electricity. Around 80% of this was used within municipal facilities (accounting for 3.2% of total electricity consumption), with the remaining 20% sold back to the grid. Savings from avoided grid electricity usage and revenue from exported solar electricity total $21,590 from the annual electricity bill.
Greenhouse gas emissions – a major contributor to climate change – in municipal facilities totalled 5,335 tonnes CO2e in 2019, a decrease of 36 tonnes CO2e compared to 2018. The decrease in emissions from 2018 to 2019 is attributed to an overall reduction in electricity consumption and fuel switching from electric sources to natural gas. At the Waste Water Treatment Plant, a large electric heater was recently replaced with a gas-fired model. This reduces the energy costs and GHG emissions related to the heating system. The use of solar electricity in municipal buildings saved 160 tonnes CO2e emissions in 2019.
Land Re-Designation First Reading
Council gave first reading to a bylaw to re-designate 514 Deer Street from residential land to parkland. The reading triggers further public consultation, including a public hearing after administration hosts negotiations of the adjacent property owners.
The property has provided rear access to six leaseholds on Deer Street from Tunnel Mountain Road since at least 1958. The proposed re-designation is to better align the intended and future use of the property with its Land Use Bylaw designation as a natural area, with long-term functional access to adjacent properties. Currently, the concept for the future use of the lot is to accommodate continued private vehicle access through the property, with the majority of the land remaining as green space. Should the use of the property for vehicle access end, another option allowed within the Parkland District would be to make use of the property as a “parkette,” similar in scale to the Jasper Way parkette.
Bear Street Construction Update
Construction on Bear Street is scheduled to be complete by November this year, with the landscaping and other finishing touches slated for the spring of next year. Council received an update on the progress of the project, which will transform the road into a permanent pedestrian-friendly shared street after replacing all underground utilities, some of which were up to 100 years old.
Sanitary sewer and water service installation was completed at the end of August, which included a number of unforeseen obstacles, as well as the upsizing of services to properties. This should minimize the need for future excavations associated with redevelopment.
Storm water services began installation at the start of September, and includes replacement of storm mains, and the installation of “soil cells” which provide adequate soil volume for tree planting, thereby enabling better tree longevity and a quicker grow rate. Soil cells also perform a storm water management function, reducing the volume of effluent and filtering the storm runoff, thereby improving the quality of water discharged to the Bow River.
Communication with businesses has been a large part of this project as well, with a dedicated website, brandnewbear.ca, created to keep landlords and the broader public informed. Fourteen on-street ambassadors to help people navigate the changing sidewalk closures and to promote Bear Street businesses. Communications includes a weekly e-newsletter for stakeholders, followed by a weekly meeting with a communications committee. A dedicated email address, BearStreetTalk@banff.ca, is monitored by the project team and responses are provided by the appropriate representative. The project experienced challenges in communicating about precise dates and times of sidewalk closures and access to businesses due to a considerable amount of uncertainty about the existing underground infrastructure locations and property connections. However, after the initial stages of excavation at properties, and following the installation of soil cells, better precision in forecasting closure dates is expected to occur for the duration of the project.