Resident Parking Permits
A Residential Parking Permit system will be introduced together with the Visitor-Pay Parking system to protect residential streets in the downtown and to provide free parking to residents in the paid zone.
Only resident and Banff business vehicles registered with the Town will be allowed to park on the downtown residential streets (red zone on map below). This will prevent visitors and non-residents from “spilling-over” into residential areas to avoid pay parking. Guest permits are available for residents to welcome visiting friends and family.
All Banff residents will be eligible for a vehicle permit which will allow 3 hours of continuous free parking downtown and up to 72 hours of parking in the downtown residential streets.
Before pay parking program is implemented in May, free parking in Banff has a mix of 1-hour, 2-hour and 3-hour time limits, depending on location. After the program is implemented, registered resident vehicles will be able to park for free up to 3 hours in all locations where payment is required. (Residents will still be required to adhere to the posted time limits in the free parking locations.)
Note: Parking in residential areas on private property (driveways and garages) is not regulated; parking permits are not required. Only parking on the public roads are managed by the Resident Parking Permit system.
- Resident Parking Permit system will be introduced in April, before Visitor-Pay Parking is implemented in May 2021.
- Parking on streets in the residential zone is restricted to registered resident vehicles from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week, year-round
- Residents will be required to register their vehicles to park for up to 3 hours free in the paid zone
- Residents register or renew their vehicles annually
- Anyone who resides in the Banff town site can register for a Resident Parking Permit
- Residents who have registered their licence plate can park for free for 3 continuous hours per day in the paid zone, and can park in the “restricted” residential parking area
- Residents who live in the “restricted” downtown residential zone can obtain guest permits for visiting friends or family who park on their street
- No cost or fee for Resident Parking Permits to eligible residents (administration and enforcement costs are to be covered by revenue from paid parking program)
- No cost for guest permits
- No limits on the number of Resident Parking Permits per residence
How to register:
- Residents register their licence plates through an online portal, or in Town Hall (if permitted under COVID safety restrictions)
- Registration and renewal is once per year
- Proof of residency will be required at initial registration and annual renewal, using licence plate verification system or copy/photo upload of other documents
- Note: In Alberta, if you are a new resident of Alberta, you must change your registration to an Alberta registration within 90 days of moving to Alberta.
How does it work:
- A printed “pass” is NOT used for display in vehicles. Licence plate recognition cameras are used by enforcement patrols
- Once a Banff resident registers their vehicle for a Resident Parking Permit, they can park on street in the “restricted” residential parking streets in the downtown (red zone on map).
- Banff residents who have registered annually for the Resident Parking Permit can park for free up to 3 hours continuously per day in the downtown paid zone (green zone on map).
- Registered residents are not required to use pay kiosk or parking app if parking for free under 3 hours. Licence plate recognition system would identify residents with permits
- Residents who want to park for more than 3 hours in the paid zone would need to pay standard rates for parking after the 3 hour free period, as outlined in the Visitor-Pay Parking web page.
- Town staff use licence plate recognition cameras to confirm vehicles in the paid zone have made payment or have a Resident Parking Permit
Where: Only vehicles registered with a Resident Parking Permit can park on streets in the downtown “restricted” residential areas (red zone on the map).
- Residents who live in the “restricted” downtown residential zone can obtain guest permits for visiting friends or family who park on the street
- Guest permits are obtained online or in Town Hall
- A printed “pass” is NOT used for display in guest vehicles. Licence plate recognition cameras are used by enforcement patrols, and they access a database of registered permits
- No monthly limit on guest permits, however only 2 guest permits can be used at a time per residence
- Each guest permit is valid for 2 weeks but can be renewed for the same vehicle if guests are staying longer
- Traffic laws apply – on-street vehicles must be moved within 72 hours
- Banff-based trades and businesses with company vehicles can register for the Resident Parking Permit
- Tradespeople who do not have vehicles registered in Banff, but require on-street parking in the “restricted” residential zone can be assigned a guest permit if off-street parking such as a private driveway is not available
- Vehicles registered to any Licensed businesses (both local or non-resident) are eligible for a Resident Vehicle Parking Permit. The vehicle must be registered to the business and the business license must be paid to be considered eligible.
- A business vehicle with a valid Resident Vehicle Parking Permit will be allowed three hours of free parking in the payment required zone (as they always have) and they will also be allowed to park in the residential permit zone for up to 72 hours (as they have always been allowed)
- These parking rights DO NOT grant any special privilege in alley or in the short free zones.
Free loading zones
15-minute free parking for loading/unloading will be included in several locations within the downtown paid zone. A map of the loading zones will be updated when the signage is installed.
The Town of Banff is adding more designated parking stalls than currently exists for people with disabilities. A parking placard from the Government of Alberta allows a person exclusive use of disabled parking stalls. People with accessible parking placards displayed in their vehicle can park in the designated stalls for free for 3 hours. A map of stalls will be updated when the signage is installed.
Examples of how the parking system will work:
- A resident from Middle Springs or Cave Avenue could park for free beside the Post Office from 1 to 2 p.m., then move to the Bear Street surface parking lot lot from 2 to 4 p.m. - for free because it is 3 consecutive hours in the paid zone
- A resident could park for free on Lynx Street from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., but if they park again after 1 p.m. (3 hours after the start of the first parking session that day), the resident would need to either park for free in one of the free spaces in the parkade or pay to park in a paid space downtown.
- A resident from Spray Avenue could park outside a residence on Muskrat Street all day, if their vehicle is registered with a permit.
- A visitor from Calgary could only:
- park in free parking lots on Bow Avenue, the Train Station, or the Bear Street Parkade upper floors
- pay to park in the paid zone
Other streets for resident permits
The zone designated for “restricted” parking for residents was determined by addressing the main problem of visitor and commuter “spill-over” to avoid pay parking in the downtown core. There are other challenges to parking congestion in residential streets that this program does not solve. Free and unlimited parking permits for residents on these “restricted” streets does not provide an incentive for residents to use their driveways or garages. Data shows there are more than 1,000 unused private stalls in the downtown area. However, the majority of feedback in the consultation recommended not fee and no cap on the number of permits per residence.
In addition, some hotels in the periphery of downtown have guests who choose to park on the street rather than a parkade. Some areas are affected by visitors to other attractions outside the downtown core. Some residential streets are affected by nearby construction. The parking plan will not solve all these issues, but as the program is implemented the Town will review the performance of the program and consider amendments. For example, other jurisdictions have processes for the majority of residents on a street or neighbourhood to request to Council make their area a “restricted” residential street.
Why is paid parking moving ahead?
Pay parking will increase the availability of short-term parking spaces in the downtown, while providing an incentive for visitors and commuters to use free 9-hour parking located at the Train Station Public Parking Lot, along the Bow River, and in the Bear Street Parkade. The Resident Parking Permit system will prevent visitors from using residential streets in the downtown core to avoid paying for parking.
In 2017, Banff residents provided a non-binding vote on the election ballot about paid parking. Eligible voters who responded said "no" (54%), and "yes" (46%). In 2019, Town Council asked for more consultation on the matter to better understand why half of eligible voters opposed the concept. The public engagement in 2019 and 2020 sought input from all residents over two phases. (Not all our residents can vote in a municipal election, but all residents can participate in public engagement programs.)
Council asked for more public engagement because parking management continued to be needed for the community, with visitation continuing to increase by about 2% every year. The problems of traffic congestion and limited parking were getting worse, making residents and visitors frustrated by unavailable parking spaces in the 4-square kilometres town site that cannot expand.
Building more parkades of free parking was evaluated and rejected in the Long-term Transportation Plan consultation because there would be no incentive for people to park in the periphery and would continue to circle downtown looking for spaces, when visitors outnumbered spaces by a large margin in peak seasons.
In 2019, the situation became different than in 2017. Other assets and plans made pay parking a more effective option:
- We have a more established Roam transit service as an efficient alternative to driving for many commuters, residents and visitors
- The Town operates a 500-stall parking lot at the Train Station, leased from the private leaseholder on CP Rail land. Operated as free parking, this provides an incentive to park in the periphery and reduce traffic downtown, when combined with pay parking in the downtown. Although requested, parking lots outside the town site are not allowed by Parks Canada.
- The new parking plan addresses the complaints of many residents who voted “now” in 2017 by creating a resident permit program to prevent “spill-over” into downtown residential areas by visitors avoiding paid parking in the core.
In 2019 and 2020, there were two phases for feedback. Over 15 months, a draft plan was presented and discussed in workshops, public sessions and online surveys. A revised plan was created based on the feedback in Phase 1. Revisions included making parking in the paid zone free for residents, providing resident permits for free and not placing limits on the number of permits allowed per residence. People over the two phases provided about 1,100 submissions on the proposals, with more than 45,000 distinct pieces of input on the range of options in paid parking and resident permits. A large majority of participants in the public engagement on the revised plan supported the initiative.
What about the revenue from paid parking?
The visitor-paid parking program is not about generating revenue. It is all about providing incentives for keeping parking short-term in the core, and motivating commuters and longer-stay parking to move to the free lots on the periphery.
However, taxpayers in Banff already pay for the maintenance of these parking stalls and traffic systems, while visitors have not contributed. The Town receives nothing from Parks Canada from visitor park pass fees. Now visitors will help contribute costs associated with the maintenance of roads and parking areas.
The paid parking program will cover the costs of the operating system and enforcement, and provide additional revenue. Banff Town Council has set up a dedicated reserve for this revenue, rather than going into general operating budgets. In early 2021, Council will review the public input on how to use the revenue to make Banff better, and Council will set parameters for how revenue can be used. (Input included roadway improvements, transit enhancements, snow clearing, environmental protection, and cycling enhancements.)