Committee appointments raise concerns

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Recent public and council appointments to high profile Town of Banff committees have proved somewhat contentious.

At a meeting on Monday (Nov. 27), council appointed Realtor Ray Horyn to Banff’s quasi-judicial Development Appeal Board for the 2017-18 term, though not all councillors supported his appointment.

“There’s some concern about a perceived and possible conflict of interest with Mr. Horyn’s position being a prominent Realtor in town,” said Councillor Ted Christensen, who ended up voting for Horyn after initially supporting Zahra Soar instead.

Horyn now joins public members David Bayne, Peter Eshenko, Dak Ker and Doug Macnamara. Mayor Karen Sorensen and Coun. Grant Canning, along with Parks Canada’s Sheila Luey and Kendra Van Dyk are also on the board.

There is no maximum number of members that can be appointed to DAB, but the land use bylaw stipulates there must be at least five – two public, two councillors and at least one, or 20 per cent of board membership, to be Parks Canada representatives.

Coun. Peter Poole said he thought there were already enough members on the board without appointing Horyn.

“I have a preference for fewer members than more members, so I would vote against that,” he said. “I don’t think we need another member on the DAB.”

But councillors Chip Olver and Brian Standish said Horyn is a great addition to DAB, noting he previously served on the Municipal Planning Commission, including as chairman.

“I believe the knowledge and experience that he’s gained in that role would be a bonus to the Development Appeal Board,” said Olver.

“In recent years, there has been a challenge for that board reaching quorum and I think another member will aid that situation.”

Meanwhile, Poole is disappointed his attempts to convince his council colleagues to appoint him as a council representative on MPC went nowhere. Corrie DiManno and Olver were appointed instead.

Poole said he believes he has the necessary skills, including his knowledge in design and architecture, to serve on MPC and decide on important buildings as well as other matters such as B&Bs.

He said council had many arguments against his appointment, among them that he knows how legal challenges work because he has engaged in legal action against the municipality over a DAB decision on the Homestead Inn.

“Some will say that I have engaged in controversies, and the fact that I started legal challenges under planning law is the proverbial elephant in the room,” he said.

“The Court of Appeals denied my leave to appeal the DAB’s decision on the Homestead Inn. That dispute is now finished.”

Poole also said he heard concerns that discussion of law, and of design, is not appropriate at MPC.

“In other words, there is a concern that if I see areas where I think the law is not being applied, or where design thinking is lacking, I will speak up,” he said.

“Well, that is exactly why we have the MPC; to be a check and balance on competing interests.”

Poole noted design guidelines are prescriptive in intent and discretionary in interpretation. “Therefore, there is a need for experienced judgment in matters of design, building function and environmental performance,” he said.

Mayor Karen Sorensen said much thought goes into appointing council members to various town committees, noting she has different filters for drafting where councillors may sit.

“My philosophy as mayor is that it’s important to move people around and give different experiences on different committees,” she said.

“I think about where people have been, where they haven’t been and also where people want to go and haven’t had a chance to be,” she added.

“Because five of six are incumbents who have had some experience in different areas and had specific asks, meeting those needs were seriously considered.”

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Rocky Mountain Outlook