Banff’s Wildfire Risk
Banff’s unique geographic characteristics—the natural environment, which is also the foundation of the resort community’s success—and development in interface areas places the community at high risk of wildfire. During the brief summer months when our forests can dry out, the wildfire risk can be extreme.
With climate change, our wildfire season is getting longer, starting earlier, and covering more areas in Canada.
All residents have a responsibility to understand fire risks and to learn about how our community can work together to minimize risks and be prepared for wildfire.
Participate in Banff’s 2022 Wildfire Hazards Cleanup Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 & 29
Banff’s FireSmart Program wants all Banff property owners to participate in a vegetation and yard debris cleanup weekend. Homeowners are encouraged to spend a few hours in their yards reducing the accumulation of deadfall and debris that contribute to wildfire spread when the risk of fire danger climbs in the summer.
Yard waste drop-off locations for free disposal:
- Saturday, May 28:
Middle Springs Drive by the Entrance to Sulphur Court
- Sunday May 29:
Beaver Street parking lot beside the Fire Hall
Branches, stems and yard debris can be disposed of free of charge at these collection locations during Wildfire Hazards Cleanup Weekend.
To participate, please ensure:
- VEGETATION ONLY – no building materials or yard/garage/basement garbage
- No stems thicker than 10 cm (4 inches)
- No pieces longer than 2 metres (6 feet)
- Yard waste (leaves and grass clippings) must be bagged.
Please do not leave yard debris on your street or sidewalk, or beside neighbourhood bins.
Download this Wildfire Hazards Community Clean Tip Sheet (PDF) for info on how to do your wildfire hazard cleanup, tree cutting and disposal.
Homeowners in the Town of Banff can request a free FireSmart assessment from the fire department. A firefighter will visit your home for approx. 30 minutes to check for ways you can better FireSmart your home. A new incentive program is available for residential property owners to reduce wildfire hazards by removing conifer trees and replacing them with deciduous trees. Request a free FireSmart Assessment from the Banff Fire Department to see if you qualify.
- Request a FireSmart Assessment
- Tree Cutting Permit
- Under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, we’re restricted to when trees can be cut down to mid-April to late August. Always call in advance and submit a Tree Cutting Permit to ensure no birds will be harmed.
- General Nesting Periods Map - B4 Zone
- Guidelines to reduce risk to migratory birds
- Wildfire Fact Sheet (PDF)
The most common misconception of FireSmart is that it prescribes clearcutting of all conifer trees and flammable landscape. The intent of FireSmart is to use discretion and find a balance of aesthetics while increasing the wildfire resistance of your home and property. Protecting your home from wildfire starts with simple actions. Whether you are doing regular yard maintenance or making large scale changes during renovations or landscaping, you can make choices that will help protect your home from wildfire. We live in an area that is prone to danger from wildfire, in the Bow Valley that is a fact of life. You can take action to reduce your risk from wildfire, and become FireSmart.
FireSmart is a national initiative to help property owners and communities understand the ways in which wildfire might threaten structures and property located in, and close to, forested and wildland areas, and the steps individuals and communities can take to reduce the susceptibility of buildings and property to fire.
The Town of Banff FireSmart Program provides resources, information and support for residents who wish to make their property and their community more resilient to damage from wildfire.
FireSmart Your Home
During wildfires, airborne embers fly with the wind and can land in your yard, on your roof, or on the trees against your house. Help reduce the potential spread of wildfire by making your home FireSmart.
FireSmart Homeowner’s Manual
Wildfires are a natural part of Canada’s wildland ecosystem. Without wildfire, the landscape loses its diversity. Wildfires recycle nutrients, help plants reproduce and create a mosaic of vegetation that provides habitat for a variety of wildlife.
By extending our lifestyles and communities further into forested areas, we become more exposed to the danger of wildfire. Living where wildfires can occur puts your home at risk, but it is possible to live safely with this natural event. The recommendations in this manual will reduce the risk of wildfire to your home and neighbourhood and help firefighters to defend your home.
FireSmart Homeowner’s Assessment
A Town of Banff Fire Department FireSmart Evaluator will complete a ’no cost – no obligation’ FireSmart assessment of your property, identifying potential hazards that could put your home at risk in the event of a wildfire. We encourage homeowners to take advantage of the expertise of the FireSmart evaluators that can look holistically at your home, property and surrounding area.
The recommendations of the FireSmart assessment will focus on achievable short and long-term changes that could be made to help reduce the risk of wildfire near your home and nearby neighbourhood and provide a better opportunity to defend your home from a wildfire - often, these are simple, inexpensive changes that can be implemented quite easily.
Request a free FireSmart Assessment by contacting the Town of Banff Fire Department at 403.762.1256.
Becoming a FireSmart Community
The FireSmart Neighbourhoods Program is designed to encourage self-organized groups of residents to take the lead in implementing solutions for wildfire safety on their own properties.
Check out the FireSmart Alberta website - to learn more about becoming a Recognized FireSmart Neighbourhood.
Contact Banff’s Local FireSmart Representative - Sean.Lloyd@banff.ca and get started on becoming a Recognized FireSmart Neighbourhood this year.
FireSmart Guide to Landscaping
By making some strategic choices in your yard, you can create a FireSmart landscape. This 20 page manual includes an extensive list of fire resistant plants and tips about FireSmart gardening. Also review the Recommended Trees and Plants (PDF) that can be planted in the Town of Banff.