Satisfied with the explanation provided about the source of funding, the City Council voted 4 to 2 in favor of spending an additional $250,000 to add some flair to the word Cochrane at the 4th Avenue retaining wall currently under construction is, to add.
Up until that point, the vote on the controversial expenses appeared threatened by a deadlock.
READ: Council takes time to consider options after public backlash
Drew Hyndman told council an arts endowment reserve was established with voluntary contributions from the developers to a community improvement levy established in the early 2000s. A portion of that went into a fund that currently has a balance of $750,000.
“It was always intended to provide community improvements within the downtown area, so it was referred to as the arts endowment fund. We had tentative discussions a number of years ago for a gateway function to use that money for when the freeway project was being completed. be, knowing the success of Banff’s project.”
City administration continued to emphasize that the welcome sign to Banff has become a leading attraction in the mountainous community. It has been reported that it attracts so much attention that it causes traffic jams.
Councilor Morgan Nagel reversed his position from earlier in the meeting, based on the information that was only provided to the council for the first time last night. Up until that point, he said, he had personally indicated that he liked the design, but was opposed because of significant negative feedback he received about the project when he reached out to people.
“I will support it because it’s funded by developers and the number one reason for me to vote against it was to be respectful of taxpayers, and it’s not funded by taxpayers.”
Councilwoman Susan Flowers expected other ideas to be presented to the council, but Pinky De La Cruz, director of engineering and asset services, focused largely on the option administration preferred.
“I thought we were going to talk about artwork, a mural if possible on the cement or other ideas that might be cheaper. I didn’t really realize we were just going to have a sales job on this particular idea. It is a lot of money and we’ve had a lot of feedback on that. I’m not sure where I stand. I was hoping we would have two or three choices and we could choose from those.”
In the end, she says she’s cut short by the fact that the funds have been around for several years and that she wants to see the Jack Tennant Memorial Bridge also be enhanced with art as the town council originally discussed.
Despite the funds being described as coming from what was called an art endowment, Mayor Jeff Genung said it’s not art, it’s a sign on a wall, and he doesn’t believe it’s considered a piece of art should not be
He reiterated his previously stated position in support of the project. He said the town tends to build things for functionality, but holds back when it comes to adding enhanced features.
“For lack of a better word, we guess at the end when it’s nice to have, and the improvements, the things that actually make other communities stand out from others. We said that in our community vision, we” I said it in our strategic priority session, we want to be unique, we want to preserve our character, we want to improve our community, well, this is an opportunity to do just that.”
“We asked our development industry to raise the bar,” he continued. “We’re actually going to make it harder and more expensive to buy into our community because we want them to reach that bar.”
Councilwoman Tara McFadden liked the project, but sought a friendly amendment to Councilwoman Alex Reed’s motion to include public involvement. While giving consideration and weighing the value of public involvement, he ultimately rejected the amendment. Instead, the amendment was voted on separately and failed by a 4-2 vote, with the majority opting instead for an information campaign telling people why it was a good idea.
McFadden suggested giving residents a chance to choose between the four designs originally presented or a fifth option to reject the idea altogether. She wanted it to be a short term engagement ending at the end of January.
Others, like Councilor Nagel, questioned the value of this form of public consultation, fearing that the response would be minimal. He believed this would require a sample of at least 1,000 residents. He questioned whether the question would receive that level of interest and feared it would become a niche special interest survey.
Mayor Genung was one of those who dismissed the need for public consultation.
“Originally when we first saw it at the committee-of-the-whole, we all loved it, not knowing the cost implications, without any unfettered feedback from the community. I think it was a good sampling of the representation elected by the community to make decisions on their behalf, so I don’t think we need to continue down that path.”
Patrick Wilson was the only council member who supported McFadden’s amendment. The two of them also opposed going ahead with the project without that consultation piece.
Wilson measured his opinion on the project as 60-40.
“I just think I could have seen value in seeing a little more public participation before we go ahead with it because it wasn’t that consequential to do, so I would vote against it, but I wouldn’t be as upset if I don’t lose. tonight.”
Councilor Marni Fedeyko was not present.
The additional $250,000 is on top of the previously approved $1.5 million budget for the retaining wall offsetting the realignment and upgrades to the Hwy. 1A corridor.
Contributions are no longer made to the community improvement fund due to the establishment of the town’s more robust off-site levy, but the funds left over are available for other projects in the community.
This has already attracted the attention of councilor Blomme.