Banff pancake breakfast proposal falls flat

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The Town of Banff has no appetite for funding a $20,000 pancake breakfast for Canada Day next year – and unless someone steps up to the plate the traditional event won’t happen.

At a meeting Wednesday (Nov. 29) to discuss the 2018 operating budget, council considered offering a pancake breakfast through a contracted coordinator, but in the end chose not to.

Connie Grace, destination events coordinator for the Town of Banff, said previous council asked administration to explore what it would cost to host a pancake breakfast similar to a 2017 event, given the group that hosted it last year can no longer do so.

“If we were able to find someone to host the breakfast for up to 3,000 people, it would cost about $20,000 or approximately $7 per person,” said Grace, noting council could decide to partially or fully offset costs by charging a per person rate.

“I did put out an expression of interest in fall to see if any local catering companies would be interested, but we only received one verbal expression of interest and we haven’t received anything from them at this point.”

Historically, pancake breakfasts on Canada Day have been organized by other agencies.

In 2017, the pancake breakfast was hosted by the Bow Valley Food Alliance, supplemented by funds from a federal grant to the municipality for Canada 150 celebrations, but the alliance cannot continue to host the event.

The Town has never had the capacity to execute this event on Canada Day, given the scope of other celebrations.

Mayor Karen Sorensen said she doesn’t believe $20,000 is a cost Banff taxpayers should cover.

“If a volunteer group wants to look after it, we would certainly support in any way we possibly could, but it doesn’t appear that for 2018 that’s going to be the case,” she said.

“I don’t think Canada Day is going to suffer greatly by not having a pancake breakfast.”

Councillor Brian Standish concurred.

“I love a pancake breakfast as much as the next guy, but $60,000 over the next three years is a lot of pancakes,” he said.

“What I’d like to see happen is for this to go back to a community fundraiser for volunteer groups.”

Sorensen said one of the big challenges for organizations hosting a pancake breakfast over the past few years surrounds meeting health requirements.

“I think it is a much more onerous situation than it was 20 years ago when you slapped some pancakes on the grill and handed them out,” she said.

For Canada Day, council did agree to spend $2,400 to pay people for set up and tear down, given labour shortages for that work in previous Canada Day celebrations.

Council also approved $5,100 for a local, professional event waste company to manage two zero waste stations, and another $4,000 for additional portable washrooms on the very busy day.

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