Resident Parking Permits
The Visitor-Pay Parking system is being introduced in late June 2021. A Resident Parking Permit system will be introduced to protect residential streets downtown and to provide free parking to residents in the paid zone.
The Resident Permit system will open in the last week of May, a month ahead of paid parking starts.
All Banff residents and businesses currently licenced to operate in Banff that have vehicles registered to the business are eligible to apply for a free Resident Parking Permit.
Only vehicles registered with a Resident Parking Permit with the Town will be authorized to park on downtown residential-only parking streets (red zone on map below). This will prevent non-residents from parking in residential areas to avoid pay parking. Guest permits are available for residents who live in the resident-only parking zone to welcome visiting friends and family.
Vehicles with a Resident Parking Permit will be allowed three hours of continuous free parking in the pay-parking zones and up to 72 hours of continuous parking on resident-only parking streets. (Existing Traffic Bylaw allows vehicles to be parked on public streets for up to 72 hours.)
Before the pay parking program is implemented, free parking in Banff currently has a mix of 1-hour, 2-hour and 3-hour parking time limits, and 15-minute loading zones, depending on location. After the program is implemented, vehicles registered for a Resident Parking Permit will be able to park for free up to 3 hours in all Town-managed locations where payment is required.
The entire downtown core, with on-street parking and parking lots is one pay-parking zone.
Note: Parking in residential areas on private property (driveways and garages) is not regulated and therefore, parking permits are not required. Only parking on the public roads are managed by the Resident Parking Permit system in the downtown area identified in the map.
- Resident Parking Permit registration will open late May, prior to the implementation of the Visitor-Pay Parking program in late June
- Parking on streets in the resident-only parking zone is restricted to vehicles with Resident Parking Permits
from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week, year-round
- Residents will be required to register their vehicles annually for permits to park for up to 3 consecutive hours free in the paid zone, and to park in the resident-only parking zone
- Residents register or renew their vehicles annually
- Anyone who resides in the Banff town site is eligible to register their vehicle for a Resident Parking Permit
- Proof of residency will be required at registration through up-to-date vehicle registration
- Residents who have registered for a Resident Parking Permit 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” resident-only parking streets downtown can obtain guest parking permits for visiting friends or family to allow them to park on the street
- See below for vehicles registered to a licensed Banff business
- No cost or fee is required for Resident Parking Permits of Guest Permits to eligible residents (administration and enforcement costs are to be covered by revenue from paid parking program)
- No cost for guest permits
- Residents with a Resident Parking Permit for their vehicle will have to pay if parking longer than a 3-hour period anywhere in the pay-parking zone
- For information on Visitor-Pay Parking, visit https://banff.ca/1184/Visitor-Pay-Parking
- No limits on the number of Resident Parking Permits for vehicles per dwelling
How to register:
- Residents will first establish an account, then will register their vehicle through an online portal opening late May
- Residents without internet access will be able to register in Town Hall (if permitted under COVID safety restrictions)
- Registration and renewal is once per year (or shorter term options for temporary/seasonal workers)
- 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 are required by law to change your registration to an Alberta registration within 90 days of moving to Alberta.
Please note: when registering your vehicle for a Resident Parking Permit, your registration must be up to date with a Banff physical address or a Banff PO Box. Update your Alberta vehicle registration, if you have not done so. In some cases for temporary, short-term or seasonal workers not required by provincial legislation to update vehicle registration, the Town will work with applicants to obtain other proof of residency.
How does it work:
- A printed “pass” is NOT be issued or used for display in vehicles. Licence plate recognition cameras will be used by enforcement patrols
- Once a Banff resident registers their vehicle for a Resident Parking Permit, they can park on street in the “restricted” resident-only 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)
- 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
Where: Only vehicles registered with a Resident Parking Permit, or a guest parking permit, can park on streets in the downtown “restricted” residential areas (red zone on the map).
Guest Parking Permits
- Residents who live in the “restricted” downtown residential zone (yellow in map) can obtain guest parking permits for visiting friends or family to park on the street
- Guest parking 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 parking permits
- No monthly limit on guest parking permits, however only 2 guest parking permits can be used at a time per residence
- Each guest parking 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
Please note: visitors to Banff National Park are required to obtain a Park Pass for day visits or annual passes. Fees for Park Passes go to Banff National Park for visitor services and facilities in the park. For information on Parks Canada Park Passes, visit the Banff National Park website.
- Banff-based trades and businesses with company vehicles can register for the Resident Parking Permit
- Vehicles registered to any business licensed to operate in Banff (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.
- Tradespeople whose business vehicles are NOT registered in Banff, but require on-street parking in the residential-only parking zone can be assigned a guest parking permit by the resident, if off-street parking such as a private driveway is not available.
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 these 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 up to 1,000 unused private stalls in the downtown area. However, the majority of feedback in the consultation recommended no 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 aims to 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 objectives of the visitor-paid parking program does not include generating revenue. The aim is to provide 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 revenue from paid parking will cover the infrastructure costs to implement the system and the operating costs for administration and enforcement, as well as cover the costs for the Resident Permit Program, ensuring those permits are free to residents. Paid parking is expected to result in additional revenue in coming years, after all costs have been covered.
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. Council's initial plan - to be finalized in April - is to spend any net revenue only on the following:
- Roadway and parking improvements;
- Transit enhancements;
- Snow clearing enhancements;
- Cycling or other active transportation initiatives; and
- Transportation decarbonization initiatives.