Here’s to a new year in the valley

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Here are a few things the Outlook staff is looking forward to as calendars turn over to 2018 …

Most important, and this is the case with many people in our valley, including business owners, young families, seasonal workers, our municipal councils and administrations – the wrapping up of some of the affordable housing initiatives launched by our respective town councils.

There’s only one way to determine if affordable rental and for-purchase housing will truly make a difference to many in our valley and that’s to get people into the units. Lack of affordable housing has caused many people to leave the valley, some businesses to close due to staffing issues related to housing and many others to struggle with calling our communities home.

While there is always backlash against affordable housing projects, we feel that, for the most, there are few people in our valley who don’t know of, or haven’t heard of, people joining the creeping exodus due to the lack of an affordable roof over their heads.

Again, there is always backlash against affordable housing projects – for many reasons – but in the past we’ve commended our councils for taking it upon themselves to create the type of housing that private developers were largely unwilling to, and we’ll continue to do so.

Decades of discussing the issue, collecting input, roundtables, public hearings, open house, etc., slipped by without anything concrete being done to correct the problem until our municipal politicians decided to take the affordable housing bull by the horns in this past term.

Much like the now very successful Roam public transit project was something of a leap of faith at the time, something had to finally be done about creating affordable housing and our mayors and councillors did just that.

Speaking of Roam – with the addition of Route 5 in Canmore, public transit is now truly a valley-wide option, which also assists with making our valley more affordable. From the early days of public transit in Banff, where council took a chance that it would be successful while addressing traffic and congestion issues, residents and tourists alike are now Roaming through Banff and Canmore, between the two towns and to Lake Minnewanka. All this Roaming, combined with specialty shuttles, has worked to alleviate at least some of the traffic and congestion problems.

Outlook staff also can’t wait to see the development of hundreds of parking spots by the train station in Banff. This parking project will likely, and finally, answer the question of whether a form of intercept parking will be embraced by travellers and truly have a positive effect on traffic and congestion within Town of Banff limits.

It’s likely safe to say that if train station parking, in conjunction with Roam in Banff, doesn’t positively alter parking and congestion, then nothing is likely to – even taxpayers being put on the hook for a $30- or $40 million parkade, as some call for.

On the sports front, here’s hoping that the International Olympic Committee’s mostly symbolic, but long overdue, ban of Russian athletes results in more Canadian anthems played in PyeongChang and more medals adorning the necks of our athletes.

Too often, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, many of whom call our valley home, have come up short of podium finishes at venues around the world, only to see Russians, confirmed or suspected of doping, on the podium ahead of them.

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Rocky Mountain Outlook