Council agreed to create a new tier to the Banff Access Program, which gives residents earning lower incomes free access to drop-in programs and discounts to community classes and Roam public transit.
Alison Gerrits, the Town of Banff’s community services director, said about 630 individuals use the Banff Access card, which represents about seven per cent of the town’s population – and she suspects the additional tier will increase affordability for even more people.
“When we do speak to users of this program, they are extremely grateful for the opportunity this discount provides, and in some cases, it has made a sizeable impact,” she said.
“It has a significant impact in terms of putting dollars back in their pockets, so they can use those dollars for other things in the community.”
Prior to the new tier, Banff residents whose income was up to 30 per cent above the threshold that Statistics Canada defines as low income, were eligible for free access to municipal drop-in programs and a 50 per cent discount on many registered programs and Roam transit.
The new tier will allow people earning up to 50 per cent more than the Statistics Canada low income cut-off to access free and discounted programs.
The current Tier 1 provides free access to some programs and a 50 per cent discount in other programs for a one-person home earning $32,939 or less; two-person home with income of $41,007 or less; three three-person home with under $50,415; four-person home with under $61,210 in income.
The new Tier 2 provides free access to drop-in sport programs and a 25 per cent discount on other programs for a one-person home earning less than $39,527; two-person homes earning less than $49,209; three-person homes with under $60,498; four-person home under $73,452 in income.
Banff Access Program participants also receive discounts from many participating Banff businesses.
Currently, there are more than 400 households – representing 630 individuals – who are members of the program.
Councillor Corrie DiManno expressed strong support for expanding the program, adding that addressing cost of living challenges faced by residents is a key strategic priority for this council.
“We know the cost of living in Banff is expensive – housing, food, living expenses – and we know those costs aren’t coming down,” she said.
“I see this as a huge investment in our residents; we hear you, we hear the cost of living is a real challenge to staying here and we want our residents to stay here.”