All Banff residents – individual and commercial ratepayers, permanent staff and short-term employees, present and former Banffites – should take umbrage with recent public comments made by Darren Enns, director of the Town of Banff's newly branded planning and environment department.
"As commercial growth culminates, it's going to shift our focus to other areas such as residential development, commercial intensification as well as addressing planning issues that come from growing day visitation," Mr. Enns told the Rocky Mountain Outlook last week.
I was 25 when Banff chose an ill-advised path toward provincial incorporation in 1990. Banff's present mayor, Corrie DiManno, by way of contrast, was approximately four years of age at the time. Thirty-three years is a third of a century or, say, the average lifespan of a western gorilla living in the wild.
The planning department that Mr. Enns now directs was granted a third of a century to plan Banff's future sustainability; and has spent many, many millions of taxpayers dollars in this laborious process. Consultants have issued reports and studied the studies for most of Mayor DiManno's lifetime.
But now, the naked truth: residential housing stock and its affordability were never a priority. The residents of Banff – the people who live and work in Banff – were dismissed as tertiary to growing the "visitor experience". It is my belief this dismissal is intentional, as it paves the way for the corporation that is the Town of Banff to plead its case for federally approved access to land not contained inside Banff's statutorily defined townsite.
I call on Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno to act on behalf of her electorate and demand a fully public forensic audit of the Town of Banff's planning department. Only after such an audit will Banffites be able to understand how and why, after more than 30 years and the expenditure of many millions of dollars, the community now faces a residential housing deficit so severe, it threatens the viability of locally owned businesses and is negatively affecting quality of life for all Banff residents.
North Vancouver, B.C.