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Banff council approves new street design guidelines

"This beautiful best look approach presented in these guidelines – some of those are going to be pretty expensive."

BANFF – The Town of Banff now has a set of guidelines that will pave the way for future projects to redesign the community's streets and roads.

The Streetscape Design Guidelines were presented to counil at its March 9 meeting and adopted unanimously. Asset management coordinator Hailey Monod said the document is just a starting point for administration when it comes to redesigning Banff's streetscapes.

"The reasons for developing these guidelines focus on providing a framework to reference when rebuilding streets in Banff with guidleines that support council's goals," Monod said. 

"The proposed designs in the Streetscape Design Guidelines are purposely generic and represent a starting point for specific project." 

Monod said the guidelines provide a comprehensive way to approach rebuilding roads in the community, while at the same time advancing council's focus of reducing the reliance on private automobiles and including other types of transportation in the design. 

Coun. Ted Christensen focused on two implications of the new guidelines: how snow clearing and storage will be accommodated and how much on-street public parking will be lost on Banff's streets as a result of these changes.

Monod said that because the guidelines are a starting point for specific designs, any loss of public on-street parking would depend on the road being redesigned.

"We did not [look at how this would change on-street parking availability] on a global level, but if you look at each street type's before and after exisiting conditions, that speaks to those elements," Monod said. 

She said with respect to snow storage, roadways without landscaping in the median could continue to utilize a windrow, while in other circumstances seasonal parking spaces, or bump-outs in the curb, could be used for snow storage during winter months. 

In March 2018, council approved priorities to be addressed through the new design guidelines, including definitions for the types of streets to be designed.

The newly approved guidelines seperates Banff's roadways into eight categories: downtown streets; arterial streets; connection streets; high and low activity residential streets; industrial streets; commercial and residential alleys. 

Because not all roads can accommodate all priorities, due to space limitations in particular, the approved matrix sets out how different elements of a redesign should be considered. It also provides administration and council with a mechanism to assess priorities within the capital budget with respect to what projects should be undertaken and when. 

Monod said a road project for the Town of Banff should take three years to undertake. In the first year, she said community consultations and the Streetscape Design Guidelines act as a blueprint to begin the process, eventually leading to a detailed design. 

She added community engagement is planned for throughout the process to help refine the design and better understand different options. 

Coun. Grant Canning said the new guidelines go further than considering a street in isolation when it comes to its design and utility work.

"It really comes up with a vision for the entire community for how each street within it fits into that larger picture," Canning said. 

"With this, we will not look at each street by itself, but how does it fit into the larger picture we are tyring to create and for me that is a very important part of this." 

Coun. Peter Poole raised the issue that while the guidelines are just a blueprint, they do determine how administration will proceed with a redesign. 

He asked that the guidelines contain language that reflects how budgetary implications will be reflected with consideration of different cost estimates related to different design options. He also asked that snow conditions during winter months be factored into the process.

"Designers are given instructions to implement what is in the guidelines," Poole said. 

"This beautiful best look approach presented in these guidelines – some of those are going to be pretty expensive."

Manager of engineering Adrian Field assured council the guidelines are just one ingredient in the conversation that has to happen to inform the design process. Field said specific criteria will be considered once the process of re-designing a Banff roadway begins.  

Following the motion to adopt the guidelines, council also discussed an update to the roadway project prioritization model, which looks at the streets in Banff and based on a number of weighted criteria, determines the order in which they should be redesigned and upgraded.

Monod recommended council consider the burial of overhead utilities as part of the asset management model, which currently looks at water and sewer utilities, road and sidewalk condition, street light replacement, land use and design.

Council voted to have administration return with a break down on how different weighted changes could affect the five year capital budget plan. 


Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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