Banff, AB – Downtown Banff will have its first ever living street this summer.
The 200 block of Bear will be converted into a Woonerf (pronounced VONE-erf), a Dutch term used to describe a shared or living street. This means Bear Street will welcome vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to share the road.
This is the first of three summers Bear Street will operate as a Woonerf, with plans to make it a permanent, year-round attraction by 2018, if the trial works well.
“This will be a great addition to Banff’s downtown core,” Acting Mayor Corrie DiManno said. “Not only will it promote active transportation in the community, it will also be an attraction in itself, encouraging visitors to walk along Bear Street and see more of what our town has to offer.”
The road will be redesigned to include platforms, sidewalk seating, additional bike racks, more park benches and many more planters with flowers to add vibrancy to the street. With the new design, two-way traffic remains, but vehicles will travel at pedestrian pace, sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians, who have the right-of-way.
Entertainment and street animation will also be part of the Woonerf, the biggest being the weekly Banff Farmers Market, which will be held every Wednesday from June 10 to September 23 in the Bear Street parking lot.
Converting the 200 block of Bear Street into a shared road was one of the recommendations of the 2013 Transportation Master Plan. Shared roads are designed to promote sustainable modes of transportation while adding animation and vibrancy to streets.
The Bear Street Woonerf will officially open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 5 at 11 a.m. The Banff Elementary School choir will be the Woonerf’s first performers. Everyone is welcome to attend.