2004 Planning — Co-winner 1
Town of Banff, Alberta
Local Action Plan for Addressing Energy Management & Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Population: 8,200 permanent; 30,000 equivalent including tourists
The Banff Local Action Plan aims to reduce the impacts of increased tourism on this national park community by mobilizing the municipal and private sectors and the community to take action to reduce energy consumption. From energy use and emissions inventories, the Town of Banff forecasted that as much as $20 million per year in energy costs could be retained within the community by 2020, money that now leaves the town without being spent on the local economy. The town also evaluated how energy consumption across all sectors affects economic, social, and environmental issues. The plan was integrated with the town's corporate ISO 14001-compliant environmental management system, which will help to prioritize new practices that result in greater energy efficiency in the community.
As a national park community and part of a World Heritage site, the Town of Banff must balance the needs of its small population of permanent residents with the thousands of tourists who visit each year. Historically, Banff had a "shoulder season," with fewer visitors in spring and fall, but that has changed. "We still have peaks in the summer and during festive holidays over the winter, but our season is essentially year round now," said Jake Pryor, the town's environmental manager.
Population spikes affect how much energy the town uses. A limit of 40 megawatts (MW) of electricity coming up through the Bow Valley serves the town, three skill hills and the community of Lake Louise. "We're creeping closer to that limit every year," said Mr. Pryor, noting that any upgrades to the electricity system would have significant environmental and visual impacts. Previous approaches, however, had fragmented energy issues and pitted them against other environmental, economic and social needs.
The town therefore had two ways to deal with the issue: increase energy supply or reduce energy demand.
- Greenhouse gas emissions from municipal operations are expected to decrease from 6,660 tonnes (1990 levels) to 4,600 tonnes by 2009 as a result of the plan's initiatives.
- The plan includes a monitoring and evaluation strategy to track progress project-by-project.
- The plan aims to retain up to $20 million in the community by 2020 through energy reduction initiatives. "That money will be available for other business transactions and will not simply leave the community in energy costs," said Mr. Pryor.
- The town has incorporated solar energy in its operations building. Other energy management opportunities include small cogeneration or microturbine projects that could be used in hotels for heating and air conditioning.
- The town's municipal buildings program shows that by completing over $400,000 in retrofits it will save $70,000 a year in energy costs. The local action plan recommends that these yearly savings be used to create a revolving fund to implement other environmental projects.
- INVOLVE THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND RESPECT THEIR NEEDS. Holding a lunch-time meeting worked well for the busy business owners who participated. A well-respected hotel also sponsored the event, which helped make the process more credible. All the largest energy consumers attended including hotels, the Banff Centre, and Mineral Springs Hospital.
- POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT SPEAKS VOLUMES. At the business meeting, the mayor and three councillors attended. "That means a lot to the business community to see their elected officials supporting a particular process," said Mr. Pryor. "They made a concerted effort to make it a mainstream economic issue."
- PROVIDE GENUINE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES. Banff is characterized by a high turnover rate in population as people come and go for jobs, depending on the season. "With so much rented property a lot of people can feel disempowered about what they can and can't do to be more efficient," said Mr. Pryor. All residents were invited to join the workshops and provide their ideas and feedback. "You learn a lot about your community by doing this, not just in terms of numbers but their motivations, their willingness to pay for certain things, and what they are personally committed or able to do."
- LEVERAGE THE COMMUNITY'S STRENGTHS. The town expects to use the energy savings from its building retrofit program for other environmental projects, demonstrating how short-term investments can be plowed back into the community for long-term benefits. There is also a role for the thousands of tourists who visit Banff each year. "We can leverage the influence of tourists by having Park Radio talk about the things that we are doing. That helps informs tourists and generates marketing opportunities for businesses," said Mr. Pryor.
Partners and Collaboration
- Environmental Management
- Banff Park Lodge
- Banff/Lake Louise Hotel Motel Association
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Parks Canada
- The Sheltair Group Resource Consultants Inc. (Vancouver)
- Praxis Inc. (Calgary)