Independence at stake in Banff?
Thursday, Dec 29, 2016 06:00 am
Editor: There’s an issue in the RMO article about population limits and planning disputes in Banff (Homestead appeal being weighed, Dec. 22, page 7.)
The fact is the municipal census of 2014 reports 8,421 permanent residents. That number exceeds the regulatory limit of 8,000. That census also counted non-permanent residents, which made Banff’s total population 9,386 people in 2014.
As you correctly state, the municipal census has less legal weight than the federal census. Still, it’s like a warning light, or a wakeup call.
So, for two years, mayor and council have known that we have exceeded the population limit. On Nov. 28, 2014, a senior planner presented the census to council. Like seeing a yellow light, that was the time to put on the brakes and slow down. But as we know from RMO’s recent reporting, the Town has sped up, issuing more development permits year after year in each of the past four years.
The risks are clear: higher tax bills for wasteful legal disputes; and worry that Parks Canada will terminate leaseholds, sending a shockwave through the community.
And here’s the biggest risk of all: as one retired Parks Canada leader wrote me last week, the town could “eventually be governed by the federal government again.” Losing our independence would be like losing a driving licence because we just accelerated through a red light with a police car watching.
In the past two weeks since I called for a conversation on how we manage population pressures in Banff, many people have stopped me in the street, in shops and in church to say, “Yes, let’s talk. Let’s review the laws and regulations.”
To keep our independence, we have to follow the rules.
Peter J. Poole,