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GOOD NEWS STORIES

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May 8 | Local volunteers launch inspiring Banff ‘Town Beautification Project’

Energetic Banff locals are taking advantage of their downtime by taking part in a Town Beautification Project. Jessia Arsenio, co-founder and admin of Facebook group Overheard in Banff, has organized small groups of volunteers to assist with cleaning up sites around town, while observing safety precautions.

Arsenio said that an increasing number of locals had raised the need for a cleanup as the spring melt uncovered underlying debris.  

“On my daily bike rides I noticed spots around town that could benefit from some upkeep and I’d been hearing chatter and concern from the community about litter,” said Arsenio.

“We’ve only started recently, and the wet weather has definitely slowed things down, but I’m looking forward to helping turn these areas into spaces that people enjoy.”

St George’s in the Pines Anglican Church and the adjoining alley have already benefited from the team’s efforts. There are also a number of senior Banff locals who have asked for assistance on their properties, and the Town Beautification team is happy to oblige.

Working in small groups that are either from one household, or made up of individuals who take care to stay two metres apart, this PPE-fitted team is looking forward to planting and landscaping in the future.

Banff residents can get involved or request more information by contacting Jessia through the Overheard in Banff Facebook page

May 6 | Local photographer launches Bow Valley Image Bank

To help support Banff and Lake Louise businesses that are in need of photos for marketing purposes, Paul Zizka Photography has launched an image bank with 30 complimentary images for digital use. The complimentary images, which include an array of mountain landscapes and wildlife, are available on a perpetual/non-exclusive basis. BLLT members can register for access here

“Paul does a really great job of visually capturing Banff National Park. We want to help businesses to look their best as we begin to reopen our mountain town to the world. The images may be useful for businesses that are revisiting their marketing strategies and redoing their websites,” said Meghan Ward, Sales and Marketing Manager, Paul Zizka Photography. 

“Banff is our home. It’s not just the place we do business. As business owners and as locals we want to see it thrive again.”

May 1 | Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation commit $100,000 in direct response funding 

The Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation has joined forces with Banff businesses and organizations to support our community during the pandemic. With a $100,000 commitment in direct response funding, the Foundation has created a food security program with local hospitality provider, Banff Lodging Company, and has partnered with the Banff Canmore Community Foundation to provide emergency grants to front-line agencies offering COVID-19 critical response.

Initially, the Foundation committed $50,000 to launch the ‘What’s for Dinner’ program on April 2 in partnership with Banff Lodging Company. The program delivers up to 200 food hampers per week and between 150 and 300 prepared meals to Banff’s most vulnerable residents. Food hampers contain ingredients to cook three meals per week.

The additional $50,000 commitment supports the Bow Valley Emergency Response Fund, created in partnership with the Banff Canmore Community Foundation and the Canmore Rotary Club. The Emergency Fund centralizes grant requests and corresponding fund disbursement to Bow Valley agencies that are providing immediate, critical response to emerging needs. The decision comes as the community adapts to a rapidly changing environment and an estimated 85 per cent unemployment rate. To date, the Emergency Fund has provided scrubs for the local hospital and supported regional food security initiatives.

“When crisis hits, Banff is known to rally together in support of each other,” says Cathy Geisler, Executive Director of the Foundation. “While this is definitely the most devastating challenge in Banff’s recent history, we knew we wanted to respond with solutions to address essential needs for our community.”

April 29 | Forest Fix de-stressing global community through virtual forest therapy walks

To foster a connection with ourselves, others and our natural environment during what is a stressful time for many of us, Forest Fix has introduced biweekly virtual forest therapy walks.

The one and half hour forest therapy walk will help participants slow down, be present and cultivate calm. According to Ronna Schneberger, the mastermind behind the program and one of the first certified Forest Therapy guides in Canada, the sensory experience involves taking participants on a guided journey where they have the chance to share and connect throughout the experience. The walk concludes with a virtual tea ceremony and sharing circle.

“Our nervous systems are all a bit jacked right now. We’re stressed and we’re in fight of flight mode. This is an important exercise that will help ground ourselves, be more kind and loving and parents and support those we work with,” said Schneberger.

Interested participants are required to download the Zoom app to their phone and are encouraged to find a place in nature in your neighbourhood with good reception. Alternatively, Schneberger suggests staying home and being by a window or on a balcony will also work well.

Launched on March 25, the program is currently seeing up to 12 participants per day. According to Schneberger, half the participants are typically at home.

“It’s been surprisingly meaningful and effective for participants. People are really appreciative of connecting with other people. Many people are stuck at home and being able to connect to nature and other people in a simple way is helping people feel calmer and more relaxed. We’re getting a really good response.”

Forest Fix is accepting participants of any age and any part of the world, including those that cannot leave their home and those in a city. The virtual walks are offered twice a week throughout May. A suggested donation of $20 is recommended. Recognizing the financial hardship that people may be experiencing, Forest Fix is also accepting whatever participants can afford to pay. Visit forestfix.ca for more information and to register.

Rocky Mountain Soap Company has partnered with Forest Fix to offer 25 complimentary spots to a virtual forest therapy walk on Thursday, April 25 from 2-3:30 p.m. MST. Visit Rocky Mountain’s Soap’s Facebook page for more information.

April 27 | Cascade window washing brightens views and warms hearts at St. Martha’s

The views from the windows at St. Martha’s long-term care facility are now a lot clearer, thanks to Mark Thorsteinson and his crew at Cascade Window Cleaning. Last week, Thorsteinson and his crew of three washed all the windows on the two wings of the building so residents could better enjoy the beautiful views. 

Thorsteinson was inspired to help after reading the story about St. Martha’s encouraging Banff residents to draw, paint, or colour a big red heart and hold it up to residents' windows from the outside of the building.

“Going to the hospital these days is quite an event. You’re met by a person at the door in full PPE. Even so, I could tell there was a smile behind the mask,” said Thorsteinson. “It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and we just thought it would brighten up the place and show support for our local community, particularly our seniors that have been hit even harder than most.”

April 24 | Forget-Me-Not Flowers shares joy through fresh floral arrangements

Local business owner Lorelle Boak has been spreading cheer throughout the community in the best way she knows how – through beautiful fresh flower arrangements. 

It all started back in March when the COVID-19 crisis was declared a pandemic and things started to escalate rapidly in the community. Lorelle said that many of her weekly orders at Forget-Me-Not Flowers were cancelled last minute and she was left with a full inventory of fresh flowers and no orders to fill. She created a collection of small bouquets and gave them to local business operators and friends, and set up a table out front of her shop with a sign letting passersby know they could take some flowers to brighten their day. 

Lorelle said she was moved by how much her efforts uplifted the spirits of those around her, so she continued to create and distribute bouquets for the following few weeks. 

“Lots of people are struggling and need a lift, and flowers are an easy way to get through to people,” said Lorelle. 

“Initially, the shop covered the cost of the flowers and overhead but it quickly became too financially burdensome to maintain.”

To keep the uplifting Flower Power project going, Lorelle set up a Go Fund Me page to accept donations, with 100% of funds collected covering the cost of the flowers. Lorelle continues to cover all overhead expenses.

Last week, Lorelle connected with the Grizzly House to include 17 bouquets as part of their free meal delivery program for those most in need, and also sent several bouquets to the YWCA. Today, Lorelle plans to set up a table out front of the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital to offer arrangements to frontline healthcare workers and hospital staff as they finish their shifts. 

If you know someone who may need a floral pick-me-up, Lorelle accepts nominations through Forget-Me-Not Flowers on Instagram.

April 22 | Pursuit feeding hungry Banff bellies with “Easy Eats”


Backed by a mission to ensure that the community has access to food during the COVID-19 crisis, Pursuit is introducing a program that provides healthy, hearty take-home meals weekly to Banff residents at cost price. Initially designed to cater to Pursuit staff that are currently working and on layoffs, the program will be extended to the community this Friday.
 
Consisting of small plates and large meals, the menu features soup, pasta dishes and more. Orders can be placed by visiting the Elk + Avenue Hotel on Fridays between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Meals provided in bags that have to be boiled in water to prepare will be ready for pick up within minutes, and residents may enjoy live local music while they wait. New menus will be posted Thursday afternoons.

“The program ensures everyone in our community has access to nutritious and delicious food,” said Scott Hergott, Executive Chef, Pursuit, Banff. “A few examples of this week’s menu include 24-hour braised beef brisket, teriyaki salmon and vegetarian wild rice and grain risotto.”

Run by Pursuit’s food and beverage staff and volunteers, Hergott mentioned the program is not a revenue stream for Pursuit. The prices reflect the cost of producing the meal, though whatever is affordable to the recipient will be accepted.

“We’re not asking for donations, but any extra money provided will be used to create additional meals that will be donated to Banff Food Rescue,” said Hergott. “We're all in this together. We're excited to share a new effort we hope will help our communities stay happy and healthy.”

Learn more about Easy Eats.

April 20 | The Banff Centre continues to bring adventure to your home

The Banff Centre continues to encourage adventuring from the great indoors with the addition of three extra films to its curated “Epic Films for the Great Indoors” program. If you are missing the mountains and looking to satisfy your thirst for adventure, enjoy these free films with your family or roommates from home.

#EpicAdventuresIndoors

April 20 | Community spirit thriving as Town of Banff flooded with donations

The Town of Banff Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) has received an overwhelming amount of support from generous businesses and individuals who have contributed to the ECC's Community Inventory initiative. 
 
Many offers of support including volunteerism and services to support the community have been received. Donations of critical items, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizing or cleaning supplies, have been redirected among priority essential services in Banff.
 
The Town of Banff thanks everyone who has donated so far:  
 
•    Several individual residents and anonymous businesses  
•    Park Distillery 
•    Banff Physical Therapy 
•    Visible Dust
•    Pad Thai Restaurant 
•    Standish Towing 
 
If you have resources to share, please e-mail resource.help@banff.ca.

April 17 | Local photographer offering free “porch-raits” for Banff residents 

Long-time Banff resident Malcolm Carmichael of Alpine Peak Photography has been volunteering his time to take porch photos of families, friends and even pets in Banff as part of #thefrontstepsproject
 
Sharon Carmichael says she and Malcolm were inspired by a friend in British Columbia who was taking free socially distanced portraits for front line workers. 
 
“This is a way for Malcolm to give back to the community,” says Sharon, who went on to say, “It’s a little bit of joy for people. It’s nice to dress up, brush your hair and put some makeup on.”   
 
To date, Malcolm has captured approximately 60 portraits and hopes to continue to offer the service to Banff residents for the next few weeks. Malcolm is ensuring he adheres to recommended social distancing practices by using a long lens to maintain adequate space between him and his subjects. 
 
Although the portraits are free of charge, Malcolm and Sharon have asked that those who participate make a donation to the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital. A link will be included to do so when the digital copies of the photos are emailed to the recipient. The hospital has confirmed it has received many donations as a result of the project.   
 
To register for a “porch-rait”, visit Alpine Peak Photography on Facebook.

April 16 | Local designer offering free services to local small businesses

Banff resident and graphic designer Ben Mulheran of Grizzly Street design is doing his part for the community by offering complimentary services to small Bow Valley businesses in need.

“I’ve put aside some time each week to provide free graphic design services to any small business in the Bow Valley that has been impacted by the pandemic,” said Mulheran. 

“Everyone is feeling the effects of COVID-19 and since we’re all in this together, this was a way that I could support the local community.”

“Right now I’m working on a logo for a business in Canmore, and it’s good to feel like I’m contributing, even though it’s on a small scale.”

To avoid taking work from others, Mulheran is offering his services specifically to small, local businesses who don’t already contract the services of a graphic designer. He can be reached at ben@grizzlystreet.com

April 15 | Rocky Mountain Flannel Company raises $5,000 for Food Banks Canada 

We can all do our part to reduce the spread of germs and still look stylish thanks to Rocky Mountain Flannel Company’s non-medical masks, which are available for purchase in support of Food Banks Canada. 

Rocky Mountain Flannel Company owner and founder, Gayle Roberts, said that a celebrity donation to Food Banks inspired her to contribute in her own way. 

“Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively recently donated a large sum to Food Banks Ottawa, which inspired me to look for my own ways to contribute,” said Roberts.

“When Chief Public Health Officer, Theresa Tam, recommended that we all start wearing masks, it was an easy decision to start making them. All proceeds are going to Food Banks Canada.”

“We set a goal of raising $5,000 and I’ve been sewing day and night to keep up with the demand from our incredibly supportive community.”

Working from her store and studio on Bear Street, Roberts has been collaborating with a network of friends to sew over 500 masks in the week it took to meet the $5,000 goal. Roberts’ helpers pick up the fabric and pattern, cut the material at home, and drop it at the back of the shop for Roberts to turn into the popular, patterned masks.

The masks are currently available online in Canada and the US. The most popular design is the iconic Rocky Mountain pattern of black and red plaid. 

April 14 | YWCA receives influx of generous donations

The community has stepped up to show its support of the YWCA, which has gratefully received an influx of generous donations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

CEO Connie MacDonald said that the organization has received everything from hand sanitizer to laptops in a heartwarming combined effort to keep YWCA staff and residents safe and comfortable. 

“Now that we’ve converted out hotel rooms into self-isolation and quarantine spaces, we’ve needed additional supplies to make sure that guests and residents are comfortable,” said Connie.

“We’ve received a large order of soap and sanitizer from Rocky Mountain Soap Company, mini fridges for the rooms from the Rimrock Hotel and dry grocery goods from Chalet Groceries at cost price, and that’s just to name a few.”

Connie says that individuals have been dropping off unwanted mobiles and laptops to ensure that those in isolation have ways to stay connected. Telus recently donated five mobile phones and sim cards to the YWCA for this purpose. She also praises the wonderful women at Rocky Mountain Quilters and St. Michael’s Anglican church, who have joined forces to offer people in quarantine a hand-crafted care package. 

“The ladies at Rocky Mountain Quilters provide hand-sewn bags, and the team at St Michael’s fill them with socks, toiletries and any other items they think would keep someone comfortable during self-isolation,” said Connie.

“The generosity of local people and businesses has been overwhelming, and it’s been tremendous for us as we put it all together.”

April 13 | Wild Flour supports frontline staff with delicious donations

As one of the only cafes still open in Banff, Wild Flour has embraced its standing as a community hub by making weekly deliveries to front line staff throughout the region. 

General Manager Meghan Druhan said that the tasty treats are a gesture of appreciation to those people still working in public-facing roles.

“We sent a delivery of cookies to the post office one week, and donated a big order of coffee and bakery treats to the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital the next,” said Meghan.

“Last week we sent some goodies up to the YWCA to support the staff and residents there.”

“Supporting the community is what we stand for at Wild Flour, and we thought it was a way that we could show how much we appreciate the people still working in those essential roles.”

April 9 | Bow Valley embraces ‘Hearts in the window’ movement

As many of us are feeling increasingly isolated and anxious as the pandemic continues to disrupt our lives, the “Hearts in the Window” movement is sweeping across the globe and spreading a message of warmth and reassurance. Born in Nanaimo, BC, ‘Hearts in the window’ encourages people to place colourful homemade hearts in your window for neighbours or passers-by to see, in the hopes of sparking joy during this challenging time.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is wearing its heart on its sleeve at this time. Finding the light in dark times, the 539 room hotel has lit up the shape of a heart in its windows more than once to send love and demonstrate solidarity in our community. The illuminated message has been shared by many of the Chateau’s sister properties around the world.

Hearts are also showing up across the Bow Valley. Banff retailer Cool as a Moose decorated their windows with hearts and messages to show support for front-line workers. “This is always a huge pick-me-up on my morning walk,” said Nancy DaDalt, director, visitor experience, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism. Many people have also placed hearts outside the windows of St. Martha residents at the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital as a sign of support.

A Facebook post in Bow Valley Community Connection group is putting a different spin on this, while seeking to keep children at home entertained. A “bear hunt” has been created, which encourages willing participants to place a teddy bear in the window of their home. Parents are invited to take their children on a walk or drive through their neighbourhood to see how many bears they can spot.

While government authorities at all levels continue to emphasize the importance of staying socially connected during a time when it may not be physically possible to do so, this initiative has proved to be incredibly popular worldwide. Since March 20, more than 160,000 people have joined the “Hearts in the Window” Facebook group. The group encourages anyone who feels scared or alone to join and embrace the sense of community that it has fostered.

April 8 | More food options dished up for Lake Louise locals

With the limited food options available in the small mountain town, the two biggest employers in Lake Louise have introduced delivery and take-out options for locals. 

Initially launched for colleagues on March 25, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has now expanded its food service to all Lake Louise residents. An array of hot and cold menu items can now be ordered from Stables KGB (formerly Temple Pizza). Orders must be a minimum of $20 can be placed between noon and 11 p.m. Delivery in Lake Louise or pick-up is available and payment is debit or credit only. Delivery is complimentary.

Similarly, the Lake Louise Ski Resort is now offering a convenient and affordable food and drink menu that is available by online order only. Launched on April 6, the menu features pizza, soup, hearty chili bowls and more. A large selection of beer and wine is also available, as well as bulk food items that can be cooked at home.

“With a thousand people left in Lake Louise and with a large kitchen facility, we felt there was a great opportunity for us to provide this service,” said Dan Markham, director of brand communications, Lake Louise Ski Resort. “We had the resources to do it so it was a no brainer.” According to Markham, the initial response was “huge.”

Family specials are available on a menu rotation. Delivery charges are $4 and complimentary for orders over $50. Orders can be placed between 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily.

Menus, important updates to these services and other food options available to Lake Louise locals can be found on the Lake Louise Community page and Lake Lou-Eats page.

April 7 | Community comes together to boost long-term care residents' morale

Launched on March 30, the Banff Hospital Community Board’s initiative to boost the morale of the 25 residents in long-term care at St. Martha’s has been a huge success so far. Recognizing the residents’ confusion over adjusted meal times and activity schedules, the Board came up with a pick-me-up solution that involves the community. 

The public was encouraged to draw, paint, or colour a big red heart and hold it up to residents from the outside of the building. The response was above and beyond.

“We’ve had people come and sing. We’ve had people dressed as dinosaurs - full on tyrannosaurus rexes show up and do the macarena for them. Lots of people are stopping by on their daily isolated stroll too,” said Marlo Reid-Gibson, Chair, Banff Hospital Community Board. “The residents seem to really like it. They’ll wave back at you.”

In addition to people hanging beautiful drawings up on the atrium windows, local musician Caitlin Connor made an appearance on April 4 and sang beautiful folk music for the residents for one hour. A local artist generously dropped off a picture to decorate the common space. People have brought hearts on sticks and have stuck them into the snow. Additionally, on April 2, the RCMP put on a light show, which involved a convoy of cars circling the entrance with their flashing lights.

“This is a marathon of an initiative, not a sprint. I hope people keep visiting and I hope it inspires the same behaviour at a few other care places. It’s not only lifting the spirits of residents; it’s having a really positive effect on staff as well,” said Reid-Gibson.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit yet, it’s not too late. The initiative is in place until further notice. According to Reid-Gibson, meal times are an ideal time to catch visitors. 

Tips:

  • Don’t touch or bang on the windows - a wave and warm smile will suffice. The healthcare workers will be on the lookout for you.
  • Do come to the solarium window.
  • Lunchtime or 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. visits are encouraged.
  • Maintain social distance from others that might be visiting at the same time.
  • Stay home if you are unwell.

Banff Community Hospital Board is encouraging visitors to take a photo of yourselves and share it on social media with #togetherwecan. Photos should be emailed to markel20@shaw.ca or texted to 403-763-7554.

April 6 | Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation launch food hamper delivery service

As the Bow Valley continues to face challenges during the pandemic, the Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation has announced it is stepping up to the plate to address food security issues within the community. A weekly food hamper delivery service launched today for Banff residents. The “What’s for Dinner” service is working with local Chef Jesse Beal of the Ptarmigan Inn’s Meatball Restaurant and will provide ingredients to cook up to three dinners a week for a family of four.

“People need to eat. We know there’s a gap between people paying their rent and having benefits kick in and some people may not even be able to afford fresh produce because it’s expensive. This was a space we knew we could easily fit into,” said Cathy Geisler, executive director, Wim and Nancy Pauw Foundation.

Families will receive three dinner dishes on a menu rotation, and will be provided with recipes. The service will be offered at three subsidized price points, including a discounted price and a by donation option. Families can choose the amount they can afford to pay.

Additionally, the Foundation, with the Meatball Restaurant and food supplier Sysco, have committed to boost the Banff Food Rescue inventory with a weekly purchase of dry goods and staple foods to supplement current stocks.

“We have committed $50,000 to this important initiative and we plan to sustain it for at least the next 10 to 12 weeks,” said Geisler.

Those interested in the service can visit pauwfoundation.com to place their order. Orders will be accepted until 4 p.m. on Wednesday afternoons. Hampers will be delivered on Thursdays. Volunteers from Banff Lodging Company’s employee-led community organization, Caribou Cares, are providing delivery support. Up to 150 hampers per week are expected to be delivered through the service.

April 3 | SkiBig3 demonstrates spirit of Bow Valley with care packages

Recognizing that this is a challenging time for many, SkiBig3 delivered care packages to staff members who still remain in the Bow Valley. Fifty packages were distributed to team members’ homes this week as a token of the company’s appreciation.

To support our community at a time of dire need, the care packages included locally sourced products; a sampler of Canmore Brewing Company Beer, Banff Roasting Company coffee, bag of oranges and a $50 Safeway gift card, as well as a “Hallmark style” sentimental Brady Bunch themed card. The team shared those beverages on a Zoom Happy Hour call today.

Pete Woods, President, SkiBig3, said, “We know people are having a hard time and we wanted to show our team that we care. The response was really great. These are tough times, everyone has been so positive and incredibly understanding.”

From April 6, SkiBig3 will be closing for a two-week hiatus (until April 20). The SkiBig3 team is now down to skeleton crew. SkiBig3 is determined to work with Banff & Lake Louise Tourism to make next winter the best season possible.

April 2 | Banff Hospitality Collective collaborates with the Banff Food Rescue

As community leaders in food waste diversion, Banff Hospitality Collective (BHC) was able to avoid wasting perishable inventory when they made the difficult decision to shut the doors to 10 restaurants on March 18.

BHC created food packages for their staff and donated the remainder of fresh produce to the Banff Food Rescue. This initial donation is what Katie Tuff, Chief of Operations and Development at BHC, credits as the first introduction between her and Banff Food Rescue founder, Alanna Pettigrew.

“It was actually our health inspector that let us know that what Alanna really needed at that time was fridge space,” said Tuff. As donations continued to pour in from local restaurants, Park Distillery cleared out a fridge for the Banff Food Rescue’s use.

Additionally, Tuff built a webpage hosted on BHC’s site that houses forms for food requests for families and individuals, donation links, and a volunteer signup. The page was designed to centralize communications for Pettigrew. This page was critical to the Banff Food Rescue’s ability to increase its donations intake and delivery capacity and with the Banff Food Bank now closed, the logistical support from BHC has allowed the Food Rescue to better act in both capacities.

“Prior to now, we were serving 40 to 60 people over three days a week. In the last two weeks, we’ve increased to anywhere between 200 and 250. We’re also now delivering to individuals and families,” said Pettigrew, who fears that food supplies and access to affordable food will become an increasing concern for many as the pandemic continues. 

“BHC is food and we’ve always valued community initiatives within the organization. I’m happy that we could lend Alanna this skillset. She’s been working extremely tirelessly on this program,” said Tuff.

The Banff Food Rescue also acknowledges and thanks the many other businesses that have come together to support this much-needed community resource during these difficult times, including Gordon Food Service (GFS), Sysco, The Banff Legion and Pursuit.

April 1 | Sysco donates over 600 lbs of fresh produce to Lake Louise residents

Food wholesaler, Sysco, who supply many businesses with fresh produce, generously donated more than 600 pounds of perishable stock to Lake Louise residents on Tuesday, March 31. The delivery was distributed at the Fire Hall and was well received by the community.

“Everything was gone in just over two and a half hours. This was a huge bonus and morale lifter for the entire community,” said Jean-Marc Stelter‎, Municipal Councillor, Improvement District No.9, who coordinated with the Lake Louise Fire Department and RCMP to distribute the delivery.

Richard Yuh, general manager of the Mountain Restaurant and Husky in Lake Louise, initiated conversations with Sysco Food Services last week to make this happen and received an additional 60 pound shipment. “It was win-win. Sysco would have had to waste this product because they cater to many restaurants, which are now closed. I’m happy I could share it with my staff because fresh produce is expensive. In times of need, people tend to resort to junk food and this is a great way to keep staff healthy. Everyone was super grateful.”

According to Richard, the donation filled his walk-in fridge at the Mountain Restaurant, which closed late March. “At first we were going to divide it equally amongst the staff but with the amount that was delivered, we just said they could grab whatever they want.” His delivery will benefit his cafe and restaurant crew of ten that have been laid off.

Richard’s hard work doesn’t stop here. He is now in discussion with another commercial food service provider to see if they can obtain dry stock to complement what they currently have on hand. “I never expect anything. I just ask. If they say no, they say no.”

March 31 | Banff Sign Co. donates 1,500+ safety masks

As the Government continues to focus on the procurement of medical equipment that healthcare professionals require to combat the pandemic, a local signage company is doing its part to help the fight. Banff Sign Co. & Knorth.ca have generously donated more than 1,500 disposable N95 safety masks to local medical facilities. 

Covenant Health and Canmore and Banff public health facilities accepted the majority of the donation. The excess went to Alberta Health Services (AHS). The masks are part of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by frontline health-care workers to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. 

“It's our hope that these supplies will help save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for front line workers and patients,” said Brendon Rayner, CCO and General Manager, Banff Sign Co.

AHS has stated it currently has an adequate supply of the N95 masks. It is ensuring proper use of the masks to avoid depletion of the supply. As we continue to battle the pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada is allocating $2 billion to purchase more PPE, including face masks.

Banff Sign Co. will temporarily close on April 3, 2020 to help flatten the curve, but will continue to provide limited services remotely from this time. The team looks forward to the continued mutual support of local businesses.

March 30 | The Grizzly House launches free food delivery service

One of Banff’s landmark eateries, The Grizzly House, is now offering a free food delivery service that provides people in need with homemade comfort food on every other day. Launched on March 26 in collaboration with the Town of Banff, the program predominantly targets Banff’s senior residents that may be in a difficult position to get groceries. Recipients can expect the menu to change frequently but can typically look forward to traditional meals such as roast chicken and mashed potatoes with homemade bread.

“Our team wanted to do something that would have a positive impact on the community, so I approached the Town and we decided we would focus on people in need. So far we are regularly delivering to 46 people and the recipients have been very grateful,” says Francis Hopkins, General Manager, Banff Grizzly house. “It’s creating a positive feeling for everyone involved. We just haven’t figured out how to deliver fondue yet. Just kidding.”

Deliveries are distributed from 4 p.m. on every other day. For more information and to see if you qualify, please contact Community Services at the Town of Banff at 403-762-1251.
 

March 27 | BLLT social channels inundated with heartwarming global support

After sharing the news that “awe-inspiring moments are now on hold”, we were inundated with hundreds of shares and supportive comments across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Having reached over a quarter of a million people across all platforms, the collective response was overwhelmingly positive, with tones of understanding and empathy. It is evident that not only our local community, but our global fans, including those facing postponed trips, have a desire to return with even more admiration once the situation improves. We are humbled by everyone’s love and support - and you will be too if you read the comments.

March 25 | Epic films for the great indoors now available online, for free

The Banff Centre is bringing its Mountain Film and Book Festival to you. They have curated a program of free Festival films that are available online for you to watch at home with your family. Find the show here.

March 24 | Local bartender offers up grocery gift cards for people in need

As news about layoffs started coming in from friends, neighbours and co-workers, Connor Gravelle felt compelled to contribute to the community in any way he could to help keep spirits high. The Banff bartender offered up four $50 gift cards to IGA to residents looking for support. He put the call out on the Facebook Group, Overheard in Banff, and the cards were gifted to people in need.

“A $50 gift card might not be a lot, but it is the gesture of feeling like you are not alone that can help you out through hard times,” he said. “Banff is a community that has given back to me in a way that I couldn't possibly pay back. This community has been amazing to me in times of need, so I wanted to do my part. I know it’s not a lot, but you can make a lot of pasta with $50.”

Last summer, Connor’s co-workers paid for a flight home so he could be with his family in a time of need. It was a gesture he says he is eternally grateful for. While he was also laid off, Banff has been home for five years, and he is here for the long haul and doing his best to unwind.

“I truly believe we will come out stronger as a community when this is all said and done. We have regained our humanity. We are looking out for each other. We are lowering the rent and buying groceries for our neighbours. We are calling people we haven't talked to in years. We are reading books. I wish we didn't need a global pandemic for us to realize this, but it really is beautiful seeing people come together.” 

March 23 | Banff Domino’s delivers 40 pizzas to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital

Comfort food is critical in times like these. It helps provide a distraction, gives a temporary sense of wellbeing, and makes you feel good. While we all need some stress relief right now, frontline healthcare staff in our community may need it most.

To help out, Banff Domino’s delivered 40 pizzas to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital on Saturday, March 21. The lunch-time delivery fed every member of the hospital staff. The Banff-location is also offering healthcare workers a free, small, two-topping pizza. Just call 403 760 3330 to ask for yours.

“It’s a stressful time. We always try to help out the community as best we can in times of need, and we know people need help right now,” said Sierra Blackwell, the manager with Banff Domino’s.

To safely feed the broader community, Domino’s is offering “contact-free delivery” as a way for people to get food without fear by removing any interactions in the process—pizzas can be left at the front door or at a reception desk.

March 21 | Lighting up Middle Springs

Anyone living in Middle Springs in Banff may see families out reinstalling their Christmas lights today.

Andrea Howie, community member and Lake Louise Ski Resort team member, said she was inspired by a Facebook Post by Amelie Petch. The post included a suggestion that everyone turn on their lights to spread some cheer and brighten up what has become a dark situation.

“Nobody knows how to react to any of this. I have two kids, seven and nine. People keep saying ‘this is our new normal,’ but nobody knows how long this will last. I thought, well maybe Christmas lights in March is the new normal.”

Adding, “to be honest, this gave us something to do together. We are trying to go with the flow and doing whatever we can to keep busy.”

Last night ten homes had their new March lighting on.

Note: out of respect for social distancing, BLLT is not encouraging members to go see these lights; we’re sharing this story as inspiration, in case others want to help light up the town for their neighbours.

March 20 | Park Distillery bottling and donating sanitizer for community use

March 20, we heard that Park Distillery is bottling and donating sanitizer solution to the Town of Banff’s Emergency Coordination Centre. According to Yannis Karlos, Banff Collective, their first batch of 250, 200ml bottles has now been delivered. 

“We are using the same equipment used for making our spirits,” he said. “though adjusting our process and keeping the strength higher.” 

The Town will distribute the sanitizer to the community free of charge, Karlos added.

Karlos has also been taking inquiries on producing high-proof alcohol for medical sterilization. They could be shipping product to a plant in Calgary, that is currently retooling to produce parts for ventilators and to service needs within our community. They plan to provide the sterilizer at cost.