Why don’t you build another parkade?

    Building a parkade has been considered but is inconsistent with the findings of both the Transportation Master Plan and the Long TermTransportation Study (LTTS)

    Both studies assessed the capacity of the road network and recognized that road network capacity is exceeded for the peak summer months. Both studies recommend intercept parking outside downtown as a way reduce vehicle congestion by reducing unwanted trips of vehicles circulating to find parking (these trips account for approximately 30% of all vehicle trips during congested periods).  

    A survey carried out as part of the LTTS indicated that 78% of respondents disagreed with the statement that “The future of transportation in Banff should involve building more road capacity to move more cars”; 74% of respondents to the survey agreed with the statement that “The future of transportation in Banff should be financially self-sufficient (pay for itself).” 

    In 2013, the cost of building a new parkade was estimated at $70,000 per stall. For the size of parkade on Bear Street, that would cost $15.1 million in 2013 dollars. Covering that cost without user-pay funds or debt financing would require a 53% tax increase in one year, which is unacceptable. Building a second downtown parkade would also require road upgrades to access it.  A 500 stall intercept lot opened in September 2019 and is being monitored for occupancy levels; transit ridership continues to grow with further expansions to local and regional services planned for 2020 and beyond. 

    We’ve told you we don’t want paid parking in Banff. Why are you bringing this back to us again?

    The Town continues to receive complaints about limited parking from residents and visitors. Visitation will continue to increase in Banff, at a rate of 2% each year, mirroring Calgary’s population growth. This will add more pressure on our road network, which exceeds capacity in summer months. 

    Other strategies have been implemented:

    - we’ve added 500 stalls in intercept parking, 

    - we continue to enhance pedestrian networks in our compact town of 4 square kilometres, and 

    - we have enhanced coverage of our Roam Public Transit system, including good service for commuters from Canmore - these didn't exist before.

    We now have more alternatives to driving that should help improve parking issues, but with visitation increasing Council asked for options to improve use of these options.

    How would paid parking work in the proposal?


    · Seasonal – May 1 to October 31

    • Parking pressures occur primarily during summer season.  Transit frequency is greater; cycling and walking are more popular during summer.  Off peak grace periods could be increased to the first 2 hours on-street and 3 hours on-street being free.

    ·  7-days/week

    • Parking pressures occur every day during the summer period

    ·  Free before 11 am

    ·  11 am to 8 pm

    • Implemented during peak hours.  Free parking prior to 11 am allows time for errands/appointments.  User-pay discourages all day commuter parking downtown

    ·  30 minutes or less – free

    • Allows time for errands/appointments but discourages commuter parking.  Encourages stall turnover for short-stay trips.

    ·  $3/hr off-street and on-street

    • Off-street parking is less popular than on-street - incentivize parking stall turnover.  Having a single rate for both on- and off-street parking means that parkers do not need to register the car’s “zone” as well as their licence plate – a parker just finds the nearest machine, enters their plate number and pays for the time they wish to stay.

    ·  Free loading zones

    ·  Accessible parking stalls charged at same rate

    • Encourage parking stall turnover, keep accessible parking stall availability for those who need it.

    ·  Free 8-hour commuter/long-stay parking in Bear Street Parkade, Train Station, and on Bow Ave

    • Allows free parking spaces in less well utilized areas for commuters and longer stay visitors.

    ·  One zone for all downtown

    ·  Technology - Licence Plate Recognition, on-street machines, ability to pay and extend time via cell phone

    How would the resident permit system work in the proposal?


    ·  In place year-round, 7 days/week

    • Visitor/commuter parking directed to either downtown, private off-street stalls (e.g. hotel parkades) or the train station lot year-round.

    ·  In effect 24 hours

    • To protect residential parking, including neighbourhoods which may experience on-street parking from nearby hotels.

    ·  2-hour limit for non-permit holders

    • Allows for some short-stay parking to complete errands/appointments; incentivizes stall turnover/more availability, incentivizes commuters to park in longer term lots or to take transit/bike/walk etc.

    ·  Permits issued for a designated vehicle licence plate

    ·  $50 admin fee

    • Fee to cover administration and to incentivize the use of private off-street parking stalls where available. 

    ·  1 permit max per residence

    ·  Permit is valid for 1 year

    • Keeps database current for rental units that may have high turnover

    ·  Guest passes – 2 per dwelling unit at a time, limited to 10 per month.  No charge for guest permits.

    • Allows for guests of residents, staying longer than the 2-hour time limit, to park in the Residential Permit zone

    ·  Technology - Licence Plate Recognition, Guest passes via LPR

    Why does the town keep taking away stalls?

    According to the Banff Transportation Master Plan and the Long-Term Transportation Study – roads in Banff are beyond capacity. With a threshold of 24,000 vehicles per day, after which congestion and delays occur, Banff averaged 27,000 vehicles per day over the summer months. Parking on main thoroughfares adds to traffic congestion. The town needs to intercept as many vehicles as possible near the entrance of town and on the outskirts of downtown. 

    In September 2019, the Town added 500 new free stalls at the Train Station Public Parking Lot, and continues to invest in the enhancement of Roam Public Transit to reduce the need for personal vehicles to get around Banff and within the national park.

    Why do you think paid parking will address congestion?

    Approximately 30% of traffic in Banff is caused by drivers circling downtown looking for parking stalls. Banff will not expand beyond its 4-square-kilometre area. Parking meters were invented in the 1930s as a way to discourage long-stay parking, and create more frequently available stalls in commercial districts. The principles still apply and can be combined with free periods before charges apply to further incentivize space availability. 

    User-pay parking has been recently introduced in Whistler, B.C. and SylvainLake, Alberta, to address the same problems experienced in Banff. For example, in Sylvain Lake, they implemented visitor paid parking and have unlimited free parking for residents, and no charge for the resident paid permit, with four permits per dwelling. All major cities across Canada use user-pay parking to increase space availability while recouping costs for road maintenance and enforcement. User-pay parking is increasingly combined with downtown congestion charges in European centres to incentivize use of public transit and to reduce air pollution.

    Why should residents have to incur costs for this? It’s unfair that we have to pay for parking downtown or to park in front of our own houses.

    Banff residents are already paying for free parking downtown. Visitors and commuters don’t pay at all. Banff property taxpayers and renters of properties pay approximately $265,000 per year to maintain the road surface and curbs, clear snow and ice, and maintain road markings of the 1,580 free parking stalls downtown. This proposal aims to recover costs from users, including the 4 million visitors who come to Banff every year. 

    The parking revenue could be used to pay for a resident permit system, enhance transit, or off-set taxes. The user-pay parking program is proposed to be implemented with a resident permit system that would make sure residents only can park in front of their homes, not visitors and commuters.

    We don’t believe you’ll use the feedback. You just want to put forward the plan you want.

    The Town of Banff is committed to listening to public input from residents, transportation and hospitality stakeholders, businesses and special interest groups. All input will be considered and shared with council and back to the community.

    The Town is just looking for ways to get more money.

    The proposal seeks to recover costs from the 4 million visitors to Banff each year and commuters, who currently park for free while Banff taxpayers and renters pay for the costs of road and curb maintenance, snow clearing and road marking for the 1,580 free spaces downtown. The revenue from user-pay parking could be used to cover the costs of a resident permit system, transit enhancements or to keep taxes down. Combined with the possibility of a free parking period before charges are required, could mean no costs to residents parking downtown for short stays.

    If this is approved, when would this go into effect?

    This proposal is being refined with public input which will be presented to council for consideration. Council has not decided to implement either user-pay parking downtown or a resident permit system. If council decides in spring 2020 to implement the proposed parking plan, it could be implemented in the summer of 2021. But no decisions on this proposal have been made.

    Paid parking can’t be the only solution. What are our other options?

    Additional intercept parking at the entrances of town have been identified as the most effective and inexpensive method of reducing vehicle congestion downtown. The town does not lease any land on the periphery that could accommodate additional parking. All land in the Town of Banff is owned by Parks Canada or CP Rail. The 500 stalls added at the Train Station in September 2019 are on private land owned by CP Rail. Parkades have been debated within the town, but the costs have been identified as prohibitive for Banff taxpayers ($70,000 per stall). A congestion charge for vehicles entering downtown is used in other jurisdictions, mainly in Europe, as a way to discourage driving into the core of town and to encourage the use of public transit and active transportation. Banff Town Council has asked administration to explore this concept.