Trial continues at west entrance; Council looks into feasibility of moving Banff sign
The Town of Banff will continue to trial traffic-calming measures at the west entrance to town while also studying the feasibility of relocating the Banff sign. This summer, several street designs were trialed at the Norquay Road entrance to encourage drivers to slow down after leaving the highway, as they entered town and a pedestrian zone around the Banff sign. A crosswalk was added to connect to the Fenlands Recreation Centre and its parking lot, planters along the median signal a transition to an urban area, and additional signage signalled the drop in speed limit.
Monitoring of speeds indicated the measures were successful in naturally slowing traffic and enhancing pedestrian safety. However, the Town responded to concerns about planters causing potential “blind spots” in certain configurations. The Town also received complaints that the traffic-calming measures were too successful, and resulted in back-ups onto the TransCanada Highway.
Traffic-calming placements were revised through the trial, and staff installed cameras to monitor traffic and causes of congestion. Increased train traffic crossing Norquay Road was identified as the main cause of traffic back-ups. Council heard that after a train has left the crossing, it takes time for traffic congestion to clear, resulting in many people incorrectly believing the planters cause the backup.
There were 44 “congestion events” between June 30 and August 5 that contributed to larger traffic backups. During that time:
- 82% were due to train crossings
- 14% were due to significantly higher traffic volume (mainly during August long weekend),
- 5% were due to Lynx Street being closed for Homestead Inn construction
For the 2020 trial, shorter planters will be used to make sightlines for pedestrians and drivers clearer, as well as other possible changes to improve the entrance to town while encouraging slower traffic.
While trains were a major factor in congestion, anecdotally there is a perception the Banff sign’s popularity is a cause of congestion. Council asked for a feasibility study for relocating the sign that will look at possible new locations as well as the cost for moving it. Council will also debate whether an entrance sign is required on Norquay Road. Initial information will be discussed during service review in late November and December.
New reserve opens for burial of power lines
Council has created a new reserve fund that will be built up over time to pay for the burial of power lines around town. The Town looks to bury power lines whenever possible to improve the resort town’s vistas of surrounding mountains. Council voted to increase the Fortis Franchise Fee by an additional 0.9%, allocate that portion of the fee revenue into a reserve specifically for power line burial. A franchise fee is a levy on utility companies for using town land. Utility companies pass on some or all of a franchise fee to customers. Currently, the average residential electricity bill includes $2.59 per month for this franchise fee. The Town’s increase will add $0.58 per month to that fee. It’s estimated this will generate $60,000 per year for the reserve. Power lines are typically buried when there is private development in an area (the town will work with the developer to determine the feasibility of burying lines), if there is public development like a municipal building project, or if there is major road works like the redevelopment of Cave Avenue. A reserve will provide additional funding for line burial.
Council also approved an additional 1.1% increase in the Fortis Franchise Fee for the street light reserve, which helps with the replacement of street lights in the future, bringing them up to Banff’s design and energy-efficiency standards.