BANFF – Councillor Peter Poole has had no success trying to shake things up on two municipal committees.
At the annual organizational meeting of council on Monday (Oct. 28), the first-term councillor tried to get a seat on the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) and the Parks Canada-Town of Banff Inter-Governmental Liaison Committee (IGL).
“I think we need to have diversity and we need to change things up now and again,” said Coun. Poole.
Councillors Corrie DiManno and Chip Olver put their names forward to continue on MPC as council representatives, forcing a secret ballot in which they won the two available seats over Poole.
Poole, who argued for a seat on MPC for the third year in a row, said there was merit to include his voice on the commission given his engineering background and deep knowledge of urban design, architectural quality and environmental performance.
He said he wanted to see discussion on MPC about proactively managing growth limits, including commercial and residential population limits, adding he believes the Town would be better served by having diverse voices on the commission.
“What’s important for the MPC is to think not project-by-project, permit-by-permit, but to have a strategy of how we address this given the cumulative impacts,” he said in an interview after the vote.
“It’s not the 21st development that causes the problems; it’s the 21st together with the 20 before that bumps us over a limit.”
Joining councillors DiManno and Olver on MPC are pubic members Scott McElhone, Barbara Pelham, Brian Smythe, Dan Trundle and Amber Wanless, along with Parks Canada representative Bryan Howie.
Coun. Ted Christensen publicly voiced his support for Poole before the secret ballot.
“Coun. Poole obviously speaks with passion on this and has decided benefits and things to add to it,” he said. “I would like to see that opportunity extended to Coun. Poole.”
Mayor Karen Sorensen said it’s important to note that six of seven councillors wanted to remain on the committees they are on.
“That is why it has been presented the way it has been presented,” she said.
Coun. DiManno said she brings three to four years of experience to her role on the planning commission, noting she has the best interest of the community at heart.
“I believe that I’ve been bringing a bit of a leadership role there in terms of knowledge when it comes to the Land Use Bylaw and Banff park management plan,” she said.
“I think that it’s good to have some consistency on MPC when it comes to members of council so that they can carry forward history.”
Olver, who has been a Banff town councillor for 25 years and has served many times over the years on MPC, spoke to her history of involvement in Land Use Bylaw revisions and two community plans.
“I think I bring a reasoned voice and considerate decision-making,” she said.
Meanwhile, for the second year in a row, Poole unsuccessfully tried to increase the number of council representatives from one to two on the IGL committee, a Parks Canada-Town of Banff committee set up as part of the incorporation agreement. Poole said many constituents ask him what goes on at the IGL and he wants to see a higher degree of formality and transparency.
“It is my hope that we can bring that democratic voice into an organization, which is Parks Canada, which for many people in this town, has been aloof and standoffish for a long time,” he said.
“By seeking a committee membership and procedure that follows the norms under the Municipal Government Act, I think we would be doing a great favour to the citizens of our town.”
Mayor Sorensen said this is a long-standing committee that has been attended historically by the mayor and town manager.
“That provides insight both administratively and politically,” she said. “It is a casual format that allows for discussion on many topics … I find it to be effective, efficient.”
DiManno said she is happy with the mayor serving on the IGL as a spokesperson for the Town of Banff.
“I don’t think that we need more councillors there. I think we have good representation as I see it,” she said.