Skip to content

New Banff busking location set for Bear Street

“In summer time it could draw people around to their businesses who want to sit and have a latte or listen to music. Let’s see how it goes and if there are complaints, if there are issues, then we can deal with it.”
20200717 Banff Buskers 0278
Salty Lemon Stringband busk on Banff Avenue. RMO FILE PHOTO⁠

BANFF – Buskers will have a new place for entertaining in Banff.

The new pedestrian-friendly Bear Street will open for buskers near the northwest corner of the public parking lot, including an area in front of Bear Street Mall, if council approves changes to the busking guidelines as recommended by the governance and finance committee.

Coun. Grant Canning voiced opposition to having buskers specifically in front of Bear Street Mall, noting it is the only downtown busking location in front of a commercial operation.

He supported busking in other public areas, such as Central Park, the southwest corner of Banff Avenue and Buffalo Street, the southwest corner of Banff Avenue and Elk Street and an area close to the sidewalk in front of Banff Avenue Square.

“I actually do support busking, and I think the fact that we do not allow amplification is fantastic. Unfortunately, I have had some experience with amplification and it’s not always pleasant so I think it’s really great what we do and how we do it,” he said.

“I think the other locations being proposed, I fully support and I think that makes sense, but it’s just this one is different because it’s in front of a commercial location and I think it’s better to keep the locations in more general public areas.”

Mayor Corrie DiManno was quick to respond, saying she wants to trial the new location on Bear Street first before making any rushed decisions.

“Having a busker could in fact be a bonus added for these folks, but we don’t know really because we haven’t had it there before,” she said.

“In summer time it could draw people around to their businesses who want to sit and have a latte or listen to music. Let’s see how it goes and if there are complaints, if there are issues, then we can deal with it.”

Under the proposed changes, the current busking location near Banff and Lake Louise Tourism’s bike valet and information kiosk on the 200 block of Banff Avenue would be eliminated due to concerns the area is already quite congested.

As for the existing Parks Canada-owned Banff Avenue Square busking location, the federal agency has expressed concerns to the municipality over potential liabilities of buskers performing in the circle area. Buskers will be moved to an area closer to the sidewalk on Banff Avenue as a compromise.

“I had discussions with Parks Canada and they asked for that amendment to be made,” said Stan Andronyk, manager of municipal enforcement for the Town of Banff.

“It may be related to performances already held there, put on by Parks.”

Requirements to be a busker in Banff include completing an application form, acknowledging and signing busking permit conditions, and paying a fee. Permits are for two days, seven days or four months.

There are also time limits established for buskers to make sure they don’t remain in the same location for more than one-and-a half hours.

“It provides variety throughout the day and it makes sure that one person isn’t in a certain area for so long,” said Andronyk.

In 2018, there were 40 busking permits issued, 30 in 2019 and 22 in 2022. There were no permits issued during the height of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.