The Town of Banff is pushing for a more efficient, sustainable way of handing traffic in response to Parks Canada’s 2021 Banff National Park Management Plan.
This spring, Parks Canada put together a draft 2021 management plan in order to set priorities for national parks, including Banff — which records more than four million visitors a year.
Its priorities include protecting the park’s natural and cultural heritage, managing visitation, strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples, improving accessibility and connection to all Canadians and adapting to climate change.
In doing so, Parks Canada included input from key stakeholders, Indigenous partners and the public.
“It really sets the stage for how Banff park, for example, will be like over the next 10 years,” said Dave McDonough, Banff field unit superintendent, in April.
The Town of Banff issued a public response to the federal agency’s plan on Thursday, and despite calling it a “significant improvement” from the 2010 management plan, the town still wants to see some changes.
For example, the town says it wants a clearer picture of Park Canada’s transportation vision.
“It appears the plan fails to account for intercept parking and other sustainable modes of transportation. We believe this is not what was intended, and that a strategy is required for a cost-effective, attractive alternative to driving,” read the response.
Intercept parking lots are sites usually located outside of town where visitors can leave their vehicles and take transit or shuttles. The town wrote that ideally it wants redevelopment of lands outside the national park, down the Bow Valley through to Calgary.
“Rather than relying solely on large-scale mass transit and built infrastructure, it would be comprised of multiple medium and small-scale components that can be assembled, added to, increased or decreased, as visitor preference, circumstances and technology change.”
The town also wants to see the redevelopment of lands on the east side of the 200 block of Banff Avenue, as well as have a plan for it by 2023. According to the town’s response, this has been part of the management plan since 2007.
The hope is to have less parking management at Banff attractions and have more people moving around in a sustainable way.
“We believe policy direction to reduce fossil fuel consumption while promoting the use of alternative and renewable energy is the biggest possible opportunity for Parks Canada to lead the way.”
Parks Canada’s vision for the national parks will be tabled in Parliament once completed.