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Banff's sponsorship policy nearing completion

Banff councillor Peter Poole wants enhanced reporting on potential sponsorship deals between the municipality and third parties
Banff Town Hall 2
Banff Town Hall

BANFF – Banff’s politicians are a step closer to finalizing a new policy for naming municipal buildings and inking sponsorship deals.

Under the proposed policy, which merges two previous policies, council can assign names to properties and the Town can get cash or in-kind support in return for a profile to an external third party organization or business, but with strings attached.

Councillor Peter Poole wants to make sure there is more enhanced reporting by administration on sponsorship requests, fearing the new policy could lead to “unintended, undesirable consequences.”

“My concern, or fear, is that there might be special interests that would pressure for naming and sponsorship that we would have a way to understand those transparently upfront,” he said during the Aug. 10 governance and finance committee meeting.

“My secondary concern is I don’t want a sponsorship policy leading to unintended incentives for municipal staff to become sales agents. I think our staff are better delivering public services and I think that primary work is what should be retained.”

The policy also indicates that all sponsorship deals worth more than $250,000 must come before council for approval.

But Coun. Poole raised concern that a $600,000 contract could be split over three years, and therefore, would not necessarily come before elected officials.

While administration indicated this is not the intent, Coun. Poole wanted that spelled out clearly in the policy.

“There could be organizations right now that are planning to interact with administration with contracts that might be, say, $600,000 split over three years, which would be $200,000 per year, and would fall under the radar,” he said.

Councillor Corrie DiManno said she was open to semi-annual reporting, particularly because the policy is new.

“Given the nature of a lot of peoples’ financial situations now,  I’ll be really curious to see what kind of interest we get,” she said.

Under the policy, naming would apply to facilities and buildings, structures and bridges, parks and trails, gardens,  playground, development areas and features within buildings such as rooms or ice pads.

Sponsorship, which would be a short-term opportunity, could apply to the above, but primarily to events, programs and services.

Jason Darrah, the Town of Banff’s communications and marketing director, said administration removed reference to the proposed sale of naming rights, which is a type of sponsorship not currently a consideration in Banff.

“The policy emphasizes that naming is the priority for council and sponsorship is a secondary priority that occurs in limited circumstances,” he said.

The Town will seek optimal revenue or in-kind benefit from any potential sponsors based on market condition, but sponsorship may only be considered if there is no risk to the Town’s reputation. 

The proposed new policy outlines sponsorship deals that would not be considered by the Town of Banff.  Some examples include organizations that promote tobacco, vaping or e-cigarettes, cannabis, drugs, alcohol, firearms or hunting; promote religious or political messaging specific to any group or faction; cause significant environmental harm; convey anything that is derogatory, prejudicial, harmful, hateful to or intolerant of any specific group or individual; or promote pornography.

In addition, the Town of Banff has the right to terminate an existing sponsorship agreement with a third party if they break any part of the deal, such as developing an inappropriate public image or break the law.

Coun. Poole was happy to see the municipality is reserving the right to  terminate sponsorship unilaterally.

“I think it’s fair to reinforce the authority of the Town,” he said.

As for naming, the idea is it would be done to improve general and emergency navigation to a specific location, to facilitate property rental or lease, and to reinforce the culture and identity of the Banff community.

Properties with names of historic or community significance such as the Louis Trono Gazebo and the Sean Frackleton Memorial Basketball Court would be considered for renaming only in rare circumstances, generally, only after 10 years, and after consultation with those associated with the existing name.

Under the naming policy, individuals may be commemorated, but that would be infrequent.

When naming a property after an individual, the proposed policy states that assignment should seek to better reflect the diversity of the Banff community, and demonstrate equal consideration of genders.

The policy also encourages that the names to be honoured reflect the heritage, cultural, ethnic or social diversity of the community, including early pioneers who have contributed significantly to Banff.

Coun. Poole was successful in adding specific wording that the Town of Banff may consider Indigenous names to recognize the heritage importance to Banff.

Rather than just pioneers, he said it should include First Peoples, traders and explorers.

“We are very good at discussing the early pioneers, and more and more it’s worth thinking of the broader history before the pioneers, so I think this is appropriate,” he said.

The policy will be before council next Tuesday (Sept. 11) for further discussion.

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