Bear Street Shared Street

Shared Street Concept Opens in new windowThe Bear Street Shared Street (Woonerff) project will help pedestrians, cars and cyclists become equal users of the commercial road. Traffic-calming features will make vehicles drive at a very slow speed, pedestrians will have the right-of-way, and cyclists will travel comfortably through the space.

Following four summers of trials with temporary features, the Town developed a proposed street redesign with reconstruction in 2020 to occur at the same time as renewal of underground drainage, sewer and water main systems.

Public Feedback

Bear Street businesses and residents will be asked for input on communications and marketing to promote the street during redevelopment.  The Town is proposing a communications on par with the 2007 Banff Refreshing marketing used to maintain business and visitation. The proposed communications includes pre-construction strategies, marketing during construction, and a wrap-up activity. 

Bear Street business owners and residents interested in participating and sharing their input on construction communications are asked to submit contact information at: 

Past Public Engagement
The Town held 13 hours of public input sessions in February and March 2019 to compile feedback on design options. See the Open House Information Boards (PDF). On March 25, 2019, council was presented a What We Heard (PDF) report. Administration also provided options for the design in response to the feedback in a Council Report (PDF).

Design Standards:

This project will follow design elements set out by the Banff Refreshing standard, which have been in place for 15 years. Incorporating these principles will provide a harmonious streetscape within Banff's relatively compact downtown core. Banff Refreshing principles include:

  • Shifting vehicular space to pedestrian and amenity space;
  • Enhancing street drainage;
  • Removing curbs and maintaining street and sidewalk areas on the same grade;
  • Adding zones for patio seating designated to restaurants that apply for additional seating;
  • Paving patterns and street features to slow vehicle traffic;
  • Additional bicycle parking;
  • Safer crossing environments for pedestrians;
  • Introduction of trees and vegetation to the streetscape;
  • Adding street lighting; and
  • Introduction of Banff Refreshing-style street furnishings (public benches; waste bins).


WoonerfTurning the 200 Block of Bear Street into a shared street was one of the recommendations in the Transportation Master Plan. The Town has been testing the design and impact of the "Woonerff" to assist with long-term decision making.

Woonerf is a Dutch word used to describe a shared street, or "living street."

The concept is used throughout Europe and is gaining popularity in North America. Banff is a very walkable community, so it was a natural step for us. It was also an unusual word that helped it stand out and draw attention to this new project.

The Dutch word is actually spelled Woonerf (with one 'f') but we used 'ff' to mirror the way we spell Banff!

Why Bear Street?

Bear Street is not considered a main arterial road in the downtown core and receives a fraction of the vehicle and pedestrian traffic of nearby Banff Avenue or Lynx Street.

Living streets, or shared roads, are designed to foster more sustainable, active modes of transportation, and enhance the vibrancy of downtown spaces.

Studies have shown that making streets more friendly to cyclists and pedestrians has a positive economic impact for businesses on the street.

In addition, a more pedestrian-friendly road in our downtown provides an additional attraction for visitors to popular Banff Avenue in peak season.

Four years of trials

Summer 2018 was the fourth and final year of the Bear Street Woonerff trial. A trial was also held on adjacent Wolf and Caribou streets.


Construction in 2020

After public consultation, final design work and planning of reconstruction of all underground services such as water, storm and sewer services, the construction of permanent features will start in spring 2020.

Two Yellow Benches in the Shade
Bikes Locked Up Beside the Street
Wooden Tables and Seats in a Public Area
Bear Street Looking North - Downtown Enhancement Concept Plan (1992) (JPG)