Update on strategic initiatives
Council received an update on the status of the Banff Community Plan, Indigenous Relationships portfolio, and the Banff Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan.
The Banff Community Plan is a Municipal Development Plan that all municipalities in Alberta, regardless of size, are required to prepare. Within five years of approval of the new Banff National Park of Canada Management Plan, the Town of Banff is also required to table an updated community plan in Parliament. The current Banff National Park Management Plan was approved in August of 2022 and the Banff Community Plan process will begin in the of fall 2022.
Applications for members of the public to sit on the Banff Community Plan Steering Committee opened on Thursday, October 13. More information can be found at https://banff.ca/BCPcommittee.
The Indigenous Relationships portfolio has proven to be a service area which has required significantly more time and resources than originally anticipated as a result of the complex and diverse perspectives of Indigenous peoples in Alberta. These resources have been dedicated towards creating, developing and strengthening relationships, strategic policy development and liaising with Treaty 7 partners and other First Nations groups, and also in tactical areas such as engaging and consulting with Indigenous partners on capital projects (e.g. Nancy Pauw Pedestrian Bridge and on the draft Railway Lands Area Development Plan), as well as forging and maintaining intergovernmental relationships, and creating training and awareness opportunities for staff and elected officials.
The Banff Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) has proven to be the most complex ARP document ever processed by the Town. A final revised draft of the ARP was submitted to Parks Canada for review on September 13, 2022, which is a key milestone for the project. It is anticipated that community engagement on the ARP will begin later this fall once Parks Canada has completed its review. The ARP would then be presented to council for first reading.
Summer visitation up, fewer traffic delays compared to pre-pandemic year
Traffic congestion was down this summer compared to pre-pandemic 2019 numbers, and fewer delays were recorded primarily due to the increased use of intercept parking and a mode shift to public transit.
Council reviewed the challenges and successes of traffic management in town through a summer transportation overview comparing this year’s data to 2019.
Parks Canada reports record visitation to the national park in July and September, and August neared 2019 levels.
The May Long Weekend experienced significant traffic delays due to a signaling system failure, which was rectified in the following week. The other significant traffic congestion occurred on August 13 between 3-6 p.m. during a trial to convert one of the southbound lanes of the vehicle bridge into a northbound lane.
The traffic delays southbound on Mountain Ave. were mainly attributed to vehicles driving across the river, up to the Gondola and Hot Pools and being turned back into town because parking lots were full. The major traffic management initiative in 2022 focused on communicating to drivers on the north side as soon as the parking lots on Sulphur Mountain were full.
Numbers comparing 2022 with pre-pandemic 2019:
- Main entrances traffic volumes were down 6%
- Mountain Ave vehicle volume down 19%
- Mountain Ave Transit ridership was up 18%
The three statistics above shows more vehicles were diverted to parking lots on the north side and visitors used more transit to visit southside attractions in 2022 than in 2019. This resulted in fewer days with traffic delays in 2022 than 2019.
- On It Regional Transit from Calgary to Banff ridership is up 23%.
- Intercept parking lots peak occupancy was at 91% (compared to 65% in 2019)
- Rimrock to CIBC travel time reaching greater than 15 minutes was down from 15 days to 9 days
- No days with vehicle volumes exceeding the 16,000 vehicles per day congestion threshold over the Bridge versus 55 days in summer 2019
- 340,000 riders on routes 1, 2 and 4 in July and August - the highest ever recorded. This ridership would be the equivalent of removing 2,200 vehicles per day from the road system; without transit the road system would have experienced grid lock for most of the summer.
- Banff residents took over 40,000 free transit rides between May 20 and September 14, 2022
- The Nancy Pauw Pedestrian bridge opened, providing an average of 3,400 crossings per day in the first two weeks – 30% of the total pedestrian river crossings of all three bridges.
Impact of Downtown Pedestrian Zone on Traffic:
- Banff Avenue’s 100 and 200 blocks were closed to vehicle traffic May 20 – October 13.
- Vehicles were diverted to Beaver and Lynx streets, which saw more traffic than when Banff Avenue is open.
West Entrance (Banff Ave.) to Downtown Buffalo St. – July to Sept. Long Weekends
- 2022 Avg Max 7.5 minutes
- 2022 Max 24 minutes
- 2019 Avg Max 10 minutes
- 2019 Max 20 minutes
East Entrance to Downtown Buffalo St. - July to Sept. Long Weekends
- 2022 Avg Max 15.5 minutes
- 2022 Max 39 minutes
- 2019 Avg Max 19.5 minutes
- 2019 Max 44 minutes
Rimrock Resort Hotel to Downtown Buffalo St. - July to Sept. Long Weekends
- 2022 Avg Max 12 minutes
- 2022 Max 20.5 minutes
- 2019 Avg Max 13 minutes
- 2019 Max 42 minutes
Download and review the full report.
Administration will continue to work with stakeholders to further improve transportation metrics and will continue to develop long-term options for infrastructure changes which would enable increases in visitation without worsening the effects of congestion for residents and visitors.
Date added to flag lowering policy
Council voted to lower the Canadian flag to half-mast on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
This decision was part of an update to the Flag Protocol Policy, which establishes the protocol for flying the National Flag of Canada at municipal buildings and specifically when the National Flag of Canada will be flown at half-mast.
In addition to September 30, the flag is flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on Remembrance Day (November 11) and any other day as directed by a majority vote or a majority affirmative email survey of Council. Also, the National Flag of Canada is flown at half-mast from sunrise to sunset on the day of the funeral or memorial service for specific dignitaries identified by Canadian Heritage and certain local dignitaries. Review the Flag Protocol Policy and other policies online.