The Bear Street Shared Street (Woonerff) project helps pedestrians, cars and cyclists become equal users of the commercial road. Cars drive at a very slow speed, pedestrians have the right-of-way and cyclists travel through at a leisurely pace.
Following four summers of trials with temporary features, the Town developed a proposed street redesign with construction in 202 to occur at the same time as renewal of underground drainage, sewer and water main systems.
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 Banff Refreshing marketing used to maintain business and visitation. The proposed communications includes pre-construction strategies, marketing during construction, and a wrap-up activity.
Town staff will be meeting with businesses and residents to develop the plan, and will request funding from council during budget deliberations. 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. 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).
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).
Turning 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.
- August 12, 2019: Draft Communications and Marketing Options for 2020 Bear Street Construction (PDF)
- April 23, 2019: Bear Street Public Feedback Council Report (PDF) - postponed from March 25 meeting to April 23
- January 28, 2019: Shared Street Concept, Council Report (PDF)
- January 22, 2019: Shared Street Conceptual Drawings (PDF)
- February 26, 2018: Utilities Scope of Work, Council Report (PDF)
- June 11, 2018: Number of On-Street Parking, Council Report (PDF)
- April 13, 2015: Trial for Transforming Bear Street into a Shared Road, Council Report (PDF)
- August 28, 2013: Transportation Master Plan (PDF)
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.