Anyone reading this blog will identify with the concern that I have pertaining to the volume of traffic in Banff, Alberta. The good news is that Banff National Park, an UNESCO heritage site, is a wildly popular tourist destination and is the crown jewel of our country’s park system. In fact, the data shows that each year, 5.3 million people cross into Banff and that means a lot of cars come in too. I have straddled between Banff and Calgary my whole life and you would be hard pressed to find someone who loves Banff – or Canada for that matter – more than me. But, I don’t love the traffic or the environmental impact of so many cars and decided that it was time for me to get involved in the conversation about what we can all do to fix it. Without getting in to too many boring details, I identified a parking solution –or at least a partial solution—that I wanted to test with the Banff tourist community.
The Banff Train Station sits about a 8-10 minute walk from the main street where all the tourists like to hang out. The land that it sits on is owned by CP Rail versus Parks Canada (which is highly unusual) and the station itself is operated by a private investor. I have walked through this parking lot hundreds of times over my life time and I have yet to see more than a couple of dozen cars in its vast parking lot. Passenger train service was discontinued 26 years ago because of cost issues so the station is vastly under utilized. My thought was to use the train station parking lot as a “collector parking lot” of sorts where people could park their car and then walk to Banff Avenue.
The downside of course is that they would need to “commute” 10 minutes on foot before getting to the popular main street. The good news though is that the train station is located on the edge of town and cars would not even enter the downtown core. My end dream would be that Banff Avenue is actually shut down entirely to cars and becomes a pedestrian only street. With the support of the Town of Banff, I obtained a permit to conduct a Traffic Solutions Poll on the main street and gauge the level of support from tourists. As per usual the main street was packed and within a few hours I had easily received over 220 signatures from passersby with roughly 95 per cent of people indicating support for the collector lot.
My specific question was, “If there was free parking available at the train station, would you use it?” The vast majority of the people who signed my petition were from outside of Canada and it was upsetting to hear them complain about the parking and all of the car and bus pollution in my town. Many of them shared some of the parking and traffic solutions that had been implemented in their part of the world and they urged me to “fight the good fight” and keep pushing forward with this initiative.
While their encouragement was appreciated, I already knew that the “Banff Traffic Solutions Poll” was just the beginning of my personal commitment to make Banff National Park greener!
Banff Traffic Solutions Poll
If there was a free “collector” parking lot located an 8-10 minute walk from Banff Avenue, and use of that collector lot would entail closing Banff Avenue to all vehicles, would you use it?
Vote for Banff Traffic Solutions Poll - Make a difference NOW