Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen has resigned from the position of mayor and member of Banff Town Council after being appointed to the Senate of Canada.
According to Alberta’s Municipal Government Act (MGA), a member of a municipal council is no longer eligible to hold elected office if they become a member of the Senate, the upper house of the Parliament of Canada.
“I am humbled and incredibly honored to be appointed to the Canadian Senate. After 17 years being privileged to serve the people of Banff, I am exhilarated to have this amazing opportunity in service to Canada,” Sorensen said. “It is a tremendous responsibility to be asked to represent the Province of Alberta at the federal level and I look forward to working hard to give voice to the diversity of groups that make up our nation.”
First elected in 2004, Sorensen served six years as a councillor and the past 11 years as the mayor of the municipality in Canada’s first national park.
Senators are appointed by the Governor General of Canada at the recommendation of the prime minister.
Sorensen’s appointment to the Senate and her departure from Banff Town Council comes near the end of Council’s 2017-2021 term, with the next municipal general election to be held on October 18, 2021. According to the MGA, Sorensen’s resignation will be reported at the next Council meeting (Monday, August 9) and during that meeting, Council will appoint one or more councillors to serve as mayor for the duration of the term.
“While I never intended to leave the role of mayor before this term was complete, I am confident in the abilities of our very thoughtful and diverse Council, and I am comforted knowing a municipal election is only a few months away. And while I will be spending part of my time in Ottawa, Banff has and will always have my heart,” said Sorensen, who announced her decision to not run for mayor late last year.
“I am very proud of all we have accomplished, including establishing an effective transit service, adding affordable housing, starting a genuine dialogue with neighbouring Indigenous nations and solidifying a commitment to environmental leadership. Banff is well-positioned to recover from the pandemic and our community’s leadership will continue to build on Banff’s successes. Almost two decades of public service focusing on making this special place in the Rockies even better has prepared me well for being Alberta’s new senator.”
Although the 105 senators are assigned based on specific number of seats for each province, the Senate has expanded its role from only representing regional interests to advocating for underrepresented peoples and new initiatives. Senators debate legislation proposed by elected parliamentarians or presented by other senators, before passing laws. In more than 20 committees, senators debate issues of national importance.
“We thank Mayor Sorensen for her service on Council and for her time as mayor of Banff,” said Kelly Gibson, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Banff. “Our community has benefitted greatly from her leadership, dedication, and passion. She’s helped to make Banff a better place. We also offer our heartfelt congratulations on her new role as Senator of Alberta, where we know she will continue to serve with the same tenacity that she has on Council.”
The decision of Council about appointment of mayor or mayors will occur at the upcoming meeting on Monday, August 9, which starts at 2 p.m. The meeting is broadcast live online at banff.ca/live.