Banff Public Library’s new library director Sarah McCormack spoke to council as a delegation, introducing herself to the community and discussing some of the plans for the library’s future. She talked about how she’d like to introduce new events at the library, and of her interest in investing in digital resources. She also spoke about the library’s upcoming fundraiser gala, and while it doesn't have a date yet, she said it will be planned for some time in November.
Council voted to accept the Economic Prosperity Study (Phase 2) as information, and directed administration to bring back the recommendations presented in the study during to the 2015 service review for consideration. The study was produced by Deloitte in consultation with a local steering group made up of eight members of the community. The study includes a number of recommendations, like supporting and enhancing an affordable quality of life, encouraging local business activity and investment, asset/infrastructure maintenance and investment, and more. Each will be brought to council during the next service review, which is a precursor to the budget deliberations.
Council voted to reallocate $30,000 in grant funding from a secondary suite program to the YWCA of Banff to modernize and improve the Gingerbread Residence. In 2007, following the adoption of the Affordable Housing Plan, the town received provincial dollars to help homeowners offset the costs of building secondary suits. Homeowners needed to apply for the funds and meet a number of criteria in order to receive any payment. No applications were ever received. Administration believes there were a number of reasons preventing homeowners from applying, like strict reporting requirements for landlords, and that the maximum subsidy available for a suite was $3,000. By providing the unused funding to the YWCA it can now be used to help modernize and improve a facility that serves those within the community with the greatest housing needs. While the money will be transferred away from the secondary suites program, council indicated they supported the intention of the program and hope to continue discussions on ways to encourage homeowners to build secondary suites.
Council voted to actively enforce provisions of the Land Use Bylaw concerning the illegal use of residential properties as commercial accommodation units, which can include vacation rentals by owner, unauthorized Bed and Breakfasts and holiday home exchange/home swap services. Administration has been receiving an increasing number of complaints about homes being used illegally as vacation rentals found on websites like AirBnB, VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) and Kijiji. Normally this bylaw enforcement is done following a written complaint, but with more frequent complaints and the increased focus on the limited number of rental units available in Banff, staff recommended a more proactive approach to enforcing the bylaw. Council also voted to conduct a range of enforcement actions, including warnings, education programs and/or financial penalties currently authorized in the Land Use Bylaw in cases where a peace officer has deemed an offence has been committed.
The final population count from the 2014 municipal census was presented to council. Banff’s population is 9,386, which includes 8,421 permanent residents and 965 non-permanent residents. The population is a 13.5% increase over 2011, but this year’s census also counted 20% more dwellings than 2011. Administration mapped and compiled a comprehensive address list prior to enumeration with the goal of counting all residents of Banff, whether or not they resided in an approved residential dwelling. This year’s response rate was 99.9%, with 18 dwellings failing to respond. A full analysis of the census results will be presented to council at a later date, but the population figure will be submitted to the province prior to September 1. Many provincial grants are distributed on a per capita basis, so a more accurate population figure can help the town qualify for more funding.
Council received a briefing on the health and safety Certificate of Recognition (COR) audit and WCB standing. COR is awarded to employers who develop health and safety programs that meet established standards. By achieving and maintain COR and participating in other programs for the past seven years, the town has received $76,886 in rebates and funding from WCB. In the 2014 external health and safety COR audit, the town received a score of 97%.
Council went in camera to discuss a request from the Banff Hockey Academy. They then made a motion to direct administration to work with the Banff Hockey Academy on a number of options to respond to the academy’s request for support, and to reconvene the last week of August to consider those options.