October 2, 2017 - Creekside Hall at 7 pm, the second Canmore municipal election forum for the 2017 election was held.  Four questions were asked to each of the two candidates running for the position of Mayor.  (listen and read along)

Question:  The MDP (Municipal Development Plan) includes a strategy to enhance pedestrian and cycling infrastructure to encourage multi-modal transportation options.  The 2014 Intergraded transportation plan focused on town centred parking, land use by-law modification proposals include relaxing parking requirements close to the downtown core and near bus stops.  At the same time, there are parts of town where residential parking is an on-going source of frustration.  What are your position on residential parking within Canmore and also with respect to the town centre parking? ( 24 mins.)

John Borrowman:
Thanks Russ.  In order to be successful at reducing congestion in our downtown core, we have to reduce the number of vehicles coming into the downtown.  We have been addresses this goal by creating better trails and pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, more bicycle parking and by starting the local transit.
We are considering intercept parking to allow for visitors and locals to park close to the downtown and walk in from there.  In regards to parking and congestion in residential neighbourhoods, there are a number of planning tools that can be considered to relieve such congestion such as controlling parking with residential permits.  One simple approach would for neighbourhood groups to encourage homeowners to use their garages for parking their vehicles rather than as a place to store recreational equipment or as a work shop.
Ed Russell:
Parking is a big problem in Canmore, some would say it is a disaster.  We have allowed the residential neighbourhoods to come on with inadequate parking stalls for the legal residents, never mind the illegal secondary suites.  We have proposed multi-family units coming on stream with insufficient parking. 
Transit will alleviate some of the need for vehicles, but we are a spread-out community.  Not everyone can or wants to ride a bike.  Downtown we have a bunch of challenges for parking, but many creative ideas floating around.  The local person coming downtown to shop or do business needs a place to park.  The visitors that our economy relays on needs a place to park.  A parking structure, at least near to downtown, is a must.  Intercept parking supplemented by transit will help.  But, we have nothing in the five year capital plan to address any parking structures.

Question:  A multi-jurisdictional initiative was announced in August to look at processes and options to reduce wildlife and human conflict in the Bow Valley.  What is the responsibility of the Town of Canmore for managing development and land use to avoid human and wildlife conflict? ( 38 mins.)

Ed Russell:
The Town of Canmore needs to be all over the province to approve the Three Sisters wildlife corridors to allow things to move forward.  It is unfair to both the residents and the owners of the property.  Once we have that we then can deal with the development around the corridors.  The issue we had around us in August, or announced in August, hopes to deal with people and wildlife interactions.  The Town of Canmore needs to be on board with restricting access to areas that are determined to be occupied by hazardous wildlife on the direction of Fish and Wildlife, as it is their responsibility.  We protect our people, they protect the wildlife.

John Borrowman:

Thanks Russ.  The primary responsibility for the town in these matters is to plan and manage land-use within the urban growth boundaries, through the area structure plans, subdivision plans, development approvals, and other planning tools.  The town has no authority in managing any wildlife issues within the town or outside of it.  We will be working with the province and other organizations within the Bow Valley to collectively address how we can all do a better job of co-existence.  In particularly in planning ways to avoid situations that may result in conflict, the town will be planning and delivering incentives as referenced in the Open Spaces Trail Plan, the Human Management Review, and other planning tools intended to encourage recreationalists to stay out of the corridors.

Question:  When approved borrowing by-laws are included, Canmore’s debt is essentially at 70% of the provincial limit that does not include the potential liability for direct borrowing by CCHC.  What is your view of the role of debt when financing town’s incentives including those for CCHC as a subsidiary? ( 51 mins.)

John Borrowman:
Thanks Russ.  It makes sense to use debt to finance infrastructure that is providing long-term benefits or for growth.  As in this matter, those who benefit from the infrastructure will be the ones who pay for it over the life of the debt and the asset.  The recent borrowing bylaws, as approved by all councillors who are running in this election, were required even though the debt may never be drawn down or not for some time. 
Provincial regulations require that approved future debt be added to the town’s total debt calculation.  Our actual debt levels fluctuate as various outstanding debentures are retired and as new debentures are actually drawn down.  The fact that we continue to stay within our own more stringent guidelines is a very positive endorsement of our commitment to healthy overall financial strength.
Ed Russell:
Debt is often necessary and while it is a four letter word, it is a fact of life for most of us.  However, one reality that is often overlooked with debt is that we must pay it back.  CCHC will repay their loans and release us from loan guarantees, but those guarantees are necessary to make their projects work.  Like any debt we purchase as householders, it better be worth it.  And that scrutiny needs to be applied to municipal debt as well.

Question:  According to BOWDA’s website, the BOWDA board meets regularly with the Town of Canmore’s Chief Administration Officer and senior managers.  Would you support policy that regulates lobbyists’ involvement with our town’ administration to ensure public transparency and accountability? ( 1 hr 4 mins.)

Ed Russell:
Yes, I would totally support policy.  However we have to respect that BOWDA’s intend to meet with Admin.  They represent a group of public as anybody else who’s out there.  But, regularly scheduled meetings, that is a wee bit over the top, in my mind.  Apparently, it is an erroneous message on the BOWDA’s website that has been corrected, but it sure caused a lot of angst among people who see it as difficult.  It’s an unfortunate error, but it has been corrected so moving on we should be save and with good policy, no problem.
John Borrowman:
So a large part of BOWDA’s role is to be an advocate on behalf of their membership.  This membership is quite broad, it includes not only developers, builders, and tradespeople, but many non-profit organizations such as the Biosphere Institute of Bow Valley, the Banff/Canmore Community Foundation, Bow Valley College, Bow Valley Regional Housing and the Chamber of Commerce.  Town Administration occasionally meets with representatives of BOWDA just as they meet with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, Housing and Lodging Association, the Biosphere Institute, Yellowstone to Yukon, BowCorridor and anybody else who cares to ask.  I fully support having such an open and transparent approach to doing business at town hall.