The Bear Minimum asks for a Banff ban on plastic bags
The Bear Minimum, a local environmental advocacy group, asked Town Council to support their call for a ban on plastic bags. Emma Murrell-Orgill, speaking on behalf of the group, asked for the Town to take a first step by determining how many Banff businesses use plastic bags and how many in a year. The Bear Minimum is advocating for a ban in order to reduce harmful impact on local wildlife, reduce contamination in the Town’s composting waste stream, and to educate and inspire visitors from around the world to think about the impact of non-renewable products on our global environment.
Council has set a goal to reduce waste going to landfill by 70% by 2028 and 100% by 2050. In 2019, the Town is focusing on reducing food waste going to landfill, which represents almost 50% of all waste generated by the commercial sector in Banff. Earlier this year, council asked administration to conduct a study of the Town’s waste stream to determine the percentage of plastics, and certain single-use plastics, that are being sent to landfill from Banff. The results of the study were to be presented in the fourth quarter of the year, but this week, council asked that the report be completed in the third quarter. The earlier timeframe will allow council to consider adding new service levels or plastic-elimination projects in time to set 2020 priorities. Council asked for the waste characterization study to determine what strategies would have the greatest impact on reducing waste, and therefore, reducing costs to Banff residents.
Council also indicated that any possible process to introduce restrictions on plastic bags would have to take in consideration the cost to businesses, many of which purchase plastic bags in large quantities to cover several years.
Rooftop Solar PV System for the Waster Transfer Station
The Town of Banff is looking to place solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Waste Transfer Site building to generate about 40% of the energy needed for bailers, conveyors, lighting and all other power requirements in the building. A capital investment of about $150,000 for the project would be recovered through $6,000 savings each year due to lower power costs. The project involves an 80 kW solar system – the second-largest in Banff after the system on The Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre.
Town Council directed administration to apply for a grant from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program to cover 30% (about $45,000) of the capital costs for installation on the Waste Transfer Site building. The remainder would be funded by the Town’s Environmental Reserve, which draws revenue from franchise fees to utility companies.
The project would reduce the Town’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 50 tonnes per year. About 90% of Alberta’s power comes from burning coal or natural gas. In the last nine years, the Town of Banff has installed solar photovoltaic systems on five municipal buildings to reduce the municipality’s GHGs and reduce costs to residents.
Ti’nu Affordable Housing development celebrates milestone
A year after opening the first units in the Ti’nu Affordable Housing development, the Town of Banff is celebrating its benefits to the community. Since January 2019, the 131 units have been 100% occupied by people who meet eligibility requirements relating to maximum household income and employment status in Banff. The units are offered 20% to 30% below market, but the housing development is not supported by Banff taxes. In fact, the apartments generate revenue – about $450,000 per year – that will contribute to the next affordable housing project on Cave Avenue or Banff Avenue. The Ti’nu project is expected to move the town’s rental vacancy rate above the current 0.6%.
In addition to providing much-needed rental space in Banff, the Ti’nu project is being celebrated for creating a sense of neighbourhood for the diversity of residents. Banff Housing Corporation Staff have collaborated with residents to create several successful programs, including a small-appliance lending library, a toy and game lending program, a mini Banff Food Rescue program, and community gatherings such as the spring trash pick-up, open barbecues in the common landing and regular yoga meet-ups.
Council used the milestone to acknowledge that the success was due to a partnership that saw the Province of Alberta contribute $12 million and the federal government through Parks Canada, provide the land needed for the three main buildings and three A-Frames.
With 43 people on the waitlist for apartments in Ti’nu, the Town of Banff is discussing the next affordable housing project for Cave Avenue or Banff Avenue at the next council meeting in July.