BANFF – Residents would be able to park for free downtown for up to three hours per day under a revised paid parking plan for the tourist town.
Under the proposal, residents can park in the downtown user-pay parking zones for free for up to three hours at any time of day all year round. Beyond that, residents would pay for parking, which they could do via on-street pay machines or online.
In addition, Town of Banff officials say there would be no fee required for unlimited resident parking permits per dwelling for nearby residential streets, where there are concerns of spillover parking with visitors wanting to avoid paying.
“We’ve heard for a number of years we would like visitors to help pay for parking and this solution does that,” said Adrian Field, the Town of Banff’s director of engineering.
“We’re also heard for a number of years from some residents that they don’t want to pay for parking and this solution does that, too.”
Charging tourists for parking in the core downtown aims to displace longer-term parking to free spaces on the edge of town, encourage turnover of spaces and reduce much of the congestion caused by drivers circling the streets looking for spots.
The latest revisions to Banff’s draft parking management plan are based on community feedback during the first phase of public consultation last year.
With the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, the second phase of consultation was put on hold; however, the municipality has rebooted it with the launch of an online survey at banffviewpoints.ca.
Under the program, pay parking would be in effect for visitors seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., year-round with a discounted rate during winter months. In summer, the cost would be $3 per hour and in winter $2 per hour.
Visitors can park, however, for free in designated lots such as the upper floors of Bear Street parkade, Bow Avenue, the train station parking lot at the Fenlands recreation centre.
As for the residential pass system, the Town scrapped the proposed $50 charge for residential parking permit based on community feedback.
Instead, there would be unlimited free resident parking permits per dwelling for the designated downtown residential streets – typically within a two block radius of the downtown core.
Permits would be valid for one year from date of registration. There would be no limit on guest passes for family and friends; however, only two guest passes can be used at the same time and each guest past is valid for two weeks.
“One of the things we are keenly aware of with visitor paid parking downtown is then there’s a chance visitors may not want to pay for parking and may stray off into adjacent residential neighbourhoods,” said Field.
“If you live on Muskrat Street, you can park your car outside on the street, but if you live somewhere else, like in Calgary, you can’t park on that street.”
Residents would have to register their licence plate, in-person or online, once a year with no fee as part of the program.
“If you live in Banff, the process would be to register your licence plate once a year and then you’d be eligible to park anywhere in the residential parking permit zone, as well as for those three hours downtown,” said Field.
The Town of Banff proposes using revenue, estimated to be about $1.1 million, to cover implementation and operating costs of the user-pay system and the cost of the resident parking permit system.
Field said the revenues also would go towards enhancing the transit system, maintenance of roads, sidewalks and trails, and improving the Town's network for both pedestrians and cyclists.
“The revised proposal for net revenues, with going to year-round, are in excess of $1 million a year,” he said. “We think that’s conservative.”
The online paid parking survey for community feedback is open until Nov. 15.
“Although phase 2 originally had another in-person feedback session, we still feel we can’t safely do that,” said Jason Darrah, the Town’s director of communications and marketing, referring to COVID-19.
“We are relying on the online survey for feedback on the revised proposal.”
After the survey results are crunched and based on all public consultation to date, administration will present a new parking management plan proposal to council at 2021 service review.
During a 2017 plebiscite, 1,107 residents, representing 54 per cent of the vote, said no to pay parking, with 959 or 46 per cent of the vote saying yes.