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Parks Canada having 'broader discussions' about paid parking in Banff

“This new system will maintain three-hour parking for residents and provide options for visitors – free or pay parking just like in other cities’ downtown areas,” Mayor Karen Sorensen said.

BANFF – The Town of Banff is in discussions with Parks Canada about two parking lots owned by the federal agency that won’t be part of the municipality's visitor pay parking system.

Concerns were raised at a governance and finance committee meeting earlier this month as councillors discussed rolling out the new paid parking plan and residential parking permit system in May.

“It would be really confusing as a visitor,” said Coun. Peter Poole, referring to visitor paid parking by Central Park, but not at the adjacent Parks-owned lot by the Banff Park Museum.

Town Manager Kelly Gibson said this issue has been discussed with Parks Canada, noting the other Parks Canada lot is by the Banff Information Centre.

“At this time, they have some broader discussions going on about paid parking, so they are excluded from this at this point in time,” he said.

“Should they decide to come onboard, it would make sense, especially in the section near Central Park, as that is actually connected to one of our pay lots.”

Paid parking in Banff, which kicks off in May, is unique in a few different ways compared to other municipalities with pay parking and residential permit programs.

The plan allows for Banff residents owning a vehicle, or any licensed Banff businesses with vehicles used in their operations, to apply for a resident parking permit. That permit will provide three free hours of consecutive parking per day, as well as an allowance to park in the controlled residential parking zone.

Residents who live in the controlled residential parking zone will have the added ability to apply for guest parking permits. There is no cost for these permits, and no cap on how many resident parking permits are allowed per residence.

There will be free, nine-hour parking in the upper three levels of the Bear Street parkade, on Bow Avenue and in the new 500-stall train station public parking lot, which is an eight-minute walk to downtown or a free shuttle ride on weekends.

The cost for paying to park is $3/hour in summer and $2/hour next winter.

Bylaw officers will patrol the visitor and residential zones, generally on foot, bicycle and by vehicle, and will scan or type vehicle plates into their handheld enforcement devices.

Those caught parking in contravention of time limits would be fined $50 – or $36 for the first offence if paid within 14 days.

The fine will be $55 for failing to pay for parking where required, parking longer than the time period paid for, or parking in a controlled residential zone without a permit. Again, the fine would drop to $36 if paid within 14 days.

“We’re hoping, if people don’t want to pay, they’re going to use the intercept lots,” said Tony Clark, the Town of Banff’s manager of municipal enforcement.

“If they choose to pay, pay properly and try not to abuse any of the free zones downtown.”

Mayor Karen Sorensen said visitor paid parking is needed because Banff’s traffic congestion and parking problems are not going away, and in fact, are expected to increase by two per cent each year.

She said an effective transit system, a new large free parking lot at the train station and controls to prevent visitors from parking on residential streets make paid parking more feasible now than in the past.

“This new system will maintain three-hour parking for residents and provide options for visitors – free or pay parking just like in other cities’ downtown areas,” Sorensen said.

Visitors will be able to download a parking app before they arrive and use their mobile phones to pay when they park, or use a pay station on the street for coin or card payments. Licence plate reader technology eliminates the need to display a dashboard pass or receipt. All of downtown is one paid parking zone, removing the need to find the number for a particular street or lot.

The Town of Banff’s parking website provides a map showing all parking lots within the Town and their capacity. For more information and a map of the paid zone, visit the Visitor-Pay Parking web page.

Parks Canada says there are no plans for paid parking in those two lots in Banff at this time. However, the agency is introducing paid parking at the Lake Louise lakeshore this summer as part of a two-year trial, as well as a reservation-only shuttle system to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from the park-and-ride lot east of the hamlet on the Trans-Canada Highway.