An Interlude in Banff with Mayor Karen Sorensen
Thank you Karen for agreeing to this interview. I wish I could say we were sitting in “Second Cup” in Banff enjoying a latte, but sadly we are thousands of miles apart at present. If anyone reading this doesn’t know where Banff is, it’s in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. And Banff is the setting for my contemporary romantic series, “The Saunders Series,” the first book of which is due for release in 2017. Although the final book in the series is partly set just along the highway, in Canmore.
Question: Karen, you are Mayor of Banff, how long does your term of office run and what is the best part of your job?
Answer: The term in Alberta, Canada for municipal elected officials is 4 years. The next municipal election is in Oct. 2017. The best part of this job is having the opportunity to represent this unique community. The Town of Banff is a municipality located in Banff national Park, Canada’s first national park. Although we have a population of under 10,000 residents, we host 4 million visitors a year.
Question: How do you fit your role of Mayor in with your family life?
Answer: Our children are adults now although they do drift home regularly. I organize my mayoral schedule weeks in advance and plan family time around those commitments. That said, when there are important commitments at the same time, my motto has always been “family first”.
Question: I know what Banff is like, Karen, but if you had to describe Banff to anyone considering visiting, how would you sell it to them?
Answer: The Town of Banff is set in a glorious mountain landscape, creating a sense of place that has a powerful effect on those who live and visit here. People come here to be inspired and often, it’s why they come back. There are few places on earth that bring the sense of awe that comes with this landscape and millions of visitors come here each year to be inspired.
Located within a UNESCO World Heritage Site our community is a reflection of the values that make this place special.
Question: What is the biggest problem you have in Banff and how do you resolve it?
Answer: Our biggest challenges for the community are housing (we have a 0% vacancy for rentals), traffic flow (a majority of our visitors arrive in private vehicles) and affordability (a majority of our population work in the service sector and earn minimum wage.
Question: What is your favourite time of year, and why?
Answer: That’s a hard question – but I would have to say the Fall. The weather is great, the colours are beautiful and the wildlife are active.
Thank you Karen for an insight into Banff, which I might add is my most favourite place. Although I live in the UK, my heart is in Canada and specifically Banff. You mention visitors gaining inspiration from the town, and this is what has happened with me. Banff gave me the inspiration for my Saunders series and it will be 40 years in 2017 since I first visited Banff. The memories of that first visit are still with me and, over the years, those memories have grown, as has Banff. I can’t imagine not having my regular fix of mountain air, nor sitting enjoying a latte and watching the tourists go by.
2017 is a special year for Canada as it celebrates 150 years of independence and I am so pleased that I was there to help them celebrate.
AND FINALLY I asked Karen recently if she was intending to stand again for Mayor in the elections in October 2017. I’m happy to say she has confirmed that she is standing again and seeking a third term in office. So good luck Karen, I would vote for you if I could.
So Banff is a special place to both myself and Karen. Canada Day in Banff is a celebration of all things Canadian, so I thought I would share a few photos from that special day with you, from the Parade through the town and my meeting with Karen to the musical events and finally as the sun begins to set the events head towards the fireworks that bring the day to a close. And the mountain that watches so spectacularly over Banff Avenue, well that's Cascade Mountain, a most beautiful backdrop to a wonderful town.
JUST A FOOTNOTE TO THIS INTERVIEW I'm pleased to say that Karen was re-elected for a third term as Mayor of Banff. So congratulations, Karen, and well done.