Banff to explore free parking for Indigenous people
At their October 24 meeting, Banff Town Council directed administration to examine the possibility of offering free parking to all Indigenous people in the pay parking areas of downtown Banff. Council said this was a small way to put the land acknowledgement – said at the start of each council meeting – into practice. Council will review options in its annual review of services and the upcoming budget, starting at the end of November.
The direction came after a review of the new pay parking system in downtown Banff. Council rejected a concept to expand pay parking to five locations on the south side of the river, such as the recreation grounds, beside the Luxton Buffalo First Nations Museum, along Spray Avenue and at Bow Falls.
The decision to halt expansion to the southside came after Council reviewed a “What We Heard Report” on consultation with six organizations that unanimously opposed pay parking in lots by their operations. The Banff Trading Post, the Luxton Museum and representation for the Stoney Nakoda First Nations also said pay parking in these sites would harm access for Indigenous Peoples in Banff.
Although council heard the pay parking system achieved some of its objectives – increasing short-term parking availability downtown, reducing traffic congestion involving people looking for parking, and increasing use of free parking at the Train Station – the program was unable to achieve the goals of reducing peak occupancy in pay parking lots and accelerating parking stall turnover. Council will look at potential fee increases in the budget debates to help improve results in these areas. Pay parking will not be expanded to any other areas.
The report also showed the pay parking system will generate an estimated $1.6 million in 2022, which used for projects such as transit, environmental protection and budget stabilization.