CANMORE – Increased regional transit and wildlife coexistence plans were two of several changes to the 2020 operational buget for the Town of Canmore discussed by elected officials at the beginning of the month.
Canmore adopted multi-year operational and capital budget approvals in 2017, meaning the 2020 budgets for the municipality were considered in full a year ago and approved by motion of council.
But with a provincial and federal election over the past year, council took time on Nov. 7 at its finance committee meeting to consider proposed amendments to both budgets for next year.
Roam Transit CEO Martin Bean proposed council add an additional six service hours for Roam regional transit per day Monday to Friday between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Bean said the anticipated cost of this is estimated at $100,000, but would be split between Canmore and Banff as it would be for the regional route.
“We have two buses on that route and it goes the full day from about 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Our ask here is to be able to fill in that gap during weekdays to have two buses run full-time throughout the day basically from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and we believe that the need is there,” said Bean.
“With the increase in ridership we’ve been seeing, some increased expenses occur and some increased needs.”
Bean said the one Roam local route for Canmore has seen increased ridership – 62 per cent increase in October alone since last year.
“That just continues to grow,” said Bean.
Bean's also asked for an increase in requisition of $20,000 for the Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission, for additional service hours that would address issues with driver’s abilities to adhere to schedules.
Meanwhile, the provincial government recently cancelled the Alberta Community Transit Fund (ACT) directly affecting the Town of Canmore’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which would have received $2.1 million.
“The intent was to come this fall and have a funding source change that included some additional gas tax and the Alberta Community Transit Fund grant replace much of the Green Trip grant and that be the funding picture for the project, however the province has since cancelled the Alberta Community Transit Fund grant,” said manager of engineering services Andy Esarte.
“So that leaves us with a large hole in the projects funding right now.”
Esarte said the municipality will work towards other grants, but worst-case scenario is it would have to postpone projects that are part of the overall plan for another year. Other options, such as using $800,000 available in Federal Gas Tax funding, will have to come before council at a later date.
The 2020 budget included $50,000 to go towards initiatives to address human wildlife conflict. Council spent time this month to define what projects those funds would be spent on. That included Quarry Lake dog park signage and boundary delineation at a cost of $30,000. Currently, confusion surrounding on-leash and off-leash areas are posing issues for bylaw peace officers and dog park users. The Town will use the funds for signage and potentially fence the area to clearly signal what is and is not an off-leash area.
“Going forward if we get approval.. we’re going to formalize it with permanent signage matching similar graphics and images so we can ensure we’re being effective," said manager of public works Andreas Comeau.
A portion of the off-leash dog area near Quarry Lake has been in a pilot program for the last three years. The pilot established a one-kilometre loop trail to a nearby pond area, however dog owners continued to take their furry friends off-leash into nearby on-leash areas, creating potential for conflict with wildlife in the area.
As a result, administration is considering fencing the area to clearly distinguish where owners can and cannot have dogs off-leash and eliminating the loop trail.
As well, the Town of Canmore has allotted $10,000 for a fruit tree incentive program that would cover 50 per cent of the cost, up to $300, for residents in high-risk neighbourhoods who decide to remove their fruit trees.
The project currently underway to replace wastewater infrastructure underneath Bow Valley Trail will see its budget almost doubled. Originally projected at $1.4 million, administration said it realized it would need an additional $1.2 million, bringing the entire budget to $2.6 million.
“We’re not looking to change the scope in any respects,” said Comeau.
“We’ve taken the project to 90 per cent detailed design so really looking at the most appropriate construction method, the most appropriate alignment and based on that we’ve had it priced out again and what we’ve learned is the price we have now is not adequate and that’s why we need the additional $1.2 million to allow the program to continue as apart of the TIP20.”
The Town would finance the additional $1.2 million through debt within the utility rate model.
Additionally, the Town proposed an increase of $15,000 for the $80,000 Rocktopia wall replacement as well as an increase of $22,000 for the $40,000 climbing gym floor replacement.