Banff New Years Eve boost in works
Thursday, Mar 16, 2017 06:00 am
The Town of Banff’s downtown family-friendly New Year’s Eve event was such a success this past year that council has committed $45,000 a year for the next three years for an enhanced celebration.
Banff council has approved the funds for 2017-19 to enhance the Dec. 31 event based on last year’s New Year’s Eve party on Banff Avenue, designed to kick off Canada’s 150 celebrations.
Officials say it was attended by more than 5,000 and there were no arrests or incidents inside the event zone.
Councillor Stavros Karlos said he did not support additional funding in future years for the event when it was first proposed, but now he realizes that he was “so wrong about this event.
“I didn’t think it would have the intended result, I didn’t think there would even be that many families in the community on the evening,” Karlos said.
“The downtown was so much fun and it was a completely different atmosphere … It was a party atmosphere, it was just a different party atmosphere.”
Coun. Chip Olver said the success of New Year’s Eve also made her change her mind.
“It changed the tenor of what has happened in previous years around people flooding Banff Avenue just before the fireworks, which really felt to me like a lot of focus on making sure there were no open bottles,” she said.
The $45,000 includes staffing, performers, rentals and contracted services. The annual midnight fireworks show, additional RCMP officers and formal road closure were already budgeted.
At a recent council meeting, Banff RCMP Sgt. Stan Andronyk told council when he started at the detachment, a month before the Dec. 31 celebrations four years ago, he noticed there were few controls or safety measures in place.
“I think a free for all is the best way to put it,” Andronyk said. “In the past, we had to focus all members in that small core area for liquor offences … we were able to expand and deal with the safety of the entire community.”
Andronyk said the planned event this past New Year’s set a new standard and tone for the annual celebration.
While RCMP still encountered issues and made a number of arrests, he said, there were no arrests or incidents in the event zone.
“It was an entirely different tone than we had seen before,” Andronyk said.
Last year’s celebration, which had a budget of $34,000 because it was a kickoff to Canada 150, included a road closure along Banff Avenue, live performances, a fat bike course, ball hockey rink, fire dancers and fire pits, maple taffy, Filipino traditional dancing, a traditional Japanese celebration by the Bow Valley Japanese Community Association, a photo booth and more.
Traditionally, the municipality only budgets $8,500 for fireworks on New Year’s Eve. Additional policing costs and road closures are approximately $8,000 each year as well.