Banff Avenue Pedestrian Zone

Public Opinions about Banff’s Downtown Pedestrian Zone (PDF) - October 13, 2020

The 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic this summer to provide more space for pedestrians to practice physical distancing, and to provide local businesses with more space for customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Included in the closure will be a portion of Caribou Street, between Banff Avenue and the Bear Street laneway, and the Banff Avenue and Beaver Street laneway. These closures will allow residents and visitors to adhere to Alberta Health Services regulations to remain 2 metres/6 feet away from others while exploring downtown Banff.

This will be a pedestrian-only zone. Cyclists and skateboaders must dismount and walk through the area.

This pedestrian zone will be implemented June 1 until September 18.

Closure Area

More room to visit businesses

This location is traditionally the busiest pedestrian area in the Town of Banff. The closure, in addition to providing space for physical distancing for pedestrians, will provide more space for customers accessing businesses on Banff Avenue. Restaurants and stores have limits on interior occupancy. Businesses may offer sidewalk seating and retail displays along the pedestrian zone, while ensuring people can maintain two-metre distance from others. Several businesses on nearby Bear Street will also be able to set up displays on Banff Avenue while construction takes place on that road ( Banff’s economy is significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and this is one measure to help businesses safely operate.

Pedestrian Zone

Traffic Congestion 

Banff Avenue is an important transportation corridor for vehicles. The closure of 2 blocks in the downtown core will create some traffic congestion, likely on busy summer days due to the detours.

Vehicle traffic will be diverted to adjacent streets, such as Lynx Street, Beaver Street, and to a lesser extent, Muskrat and Otter streets – on the east side of Banff Avenue, and Lynx and Buffalo streets – to the west and south of Banff Avenue. Access to the south side through detours and Buffalo Street will be maintained.

However, initially, the pandemic will reduce visitation to Banff. With international borders closed, more than 50% of Banff’s normal tourist population will not be visiting Banff. As interprovincial travel increases, then U.S.-Canada travel expands, the vehicle traffic will increase.

To deal with congestion, the Town of Banff is implementing a number of tactics, including:

  • Reprogramming traffic signals at either end of the pedestrian zone to expedite turning movements
  • Hiring flaggers for peak-periods along Norquay Road and Banff Avenue to divert vehicles to the Train Station Public Parking Lot and the Fenlands parking lot, which have a combined capacity of over 700 vehicles
  • Diverting RVs from heading into the downtown core
  • Increased signage to promote use of parking locations outside the downtown core
Traffic Flow

Plan Ahead

Banff is only 4 square kilometres in area. Parking is very limited and navigating will be affected by detours. Visitors to the Banff townsite should plan their route to one of the main parking lots, all within 10 minutes walking distance of the downtown core.

  • If staying overnight in a hotel or camping, enter Banff from the TransCanada Highway at the Banff Avenue/Lake Minnewanka entrance
  • If visiting Banff for the day, enter the townsite from the Mount Norquay Road entrance
  • Use to find parking lots with available spaces, and the best route to the location

Additional Information

  • The closure area has two accessible stalls which will be relocated to Wolf Street and Buffalo Street to maintain access
  • The horse carriage will not travel down Banff Avenue during the closure
  • Banff Avenue Roam Public Transit stops will be relocated to Beaver Street
  • Landscape planters will be installed and configured as guides to pedestrian movement, while also creating an inviting environment
  • Cyclists and skateboarders will be required to dismount
  • Sidewalk Seating Permits - Thank you to all sidewalk seating (café) applicants for your interest in activating the Banff Avenue closure area. At this time the Town of Banff is not issuing additional sidewalk seating (café) permits beyond those already in process. The Town is continually monitoring the pedestrian closure area in order to ensure we are achieving the public health goals around social distancing.
  • Outdoor Merchandise Display Permits

Project cost

This project is funded from the Budget Stabilization Reserve in the amount of $175,000 to facilitate investments in traffic control, landscaping, and other related supports.