Skip to content

Visitors to Banff urged to securely dispose of garbage, food

“If you notice a garbage bin is full, either take your garbage and recycling with you, or find another bin to empty it into and properly secure it."
0817 Garbage
An example of garbage at Banff National Park. FACEBOOK PHOTO

BANFF – An increase in visitation to Banff National Park this summer has led to trash and food leftovers being dumped at popular day-use areas, raising fears it may attract hungry bears and other wildlife.

The spike in this unwanted behaviour, particularly since the August long weekend, has prompted Parks Canada to urge visitors to dispose of food, recycling and garbage properly in wildlife-proof bins or take it home if bins are full.

“At this time of year bears are out looking for buffalo-berries and we’ve seen a poor berry crop this season and we know that’s a really important food source for bears,” said Kimberly Fisher, Parks Canada’s interpretation coordinator for Banff National Park.

“It’s really important that folks secure their wildlife attractants – things like garbage, things like unattended food – as those items could be really inviting to bears in the coming days and weeks… we want to ensure that none of the wildlife in the park get food rewards.”

Following the August long weekend, photos of overflowing bins and trash at Cascade Ponds were circulating on local social media sites, prompting anger and frustration from residents about the unsightly mess and potential repercussions for treasured wildlife.

The Outlook was unable to find out the garbage pick-up schedule from Parks Canada by press time, or if the pick-ups are increased on busier weekends and holiday weekends. However, the federal agency is facing similar staffing shortages to other organizations in the Bow Valley.

Fisher said keeping the day-use areas free of garbage is a shared responsibility.

“If you notice a garbage bin is full, either take your garbage and recycling with you, or find another bin to empty it into and properly secure it,” she said.

Parks Canada’s team of interpreters, known as picnic patrollers, has now adjusted work hours to have more coverage into the evening to help educate visitors.

“We’re out there picking up litter as well as talking to visitors to ensure their wildlife attractants and garbage get disposed of properly,” said Fisher.

Some of the problem areas include Cascade Ponds, Two Jack Lake and Johnson Lake.

Fisher said the warmer summer days are keeping people outdoors into the evening, particularly at lakes.

“People want to cool off so it’s important for us to be up there at those times as they’re having more lingering dinners into the evening hours,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to connect with visitors.”

If people see unsecured garbage in the Banff townsite, call the Town of Banff bylaw services at 403-763-1218. For outside the townsite at day-use areas in Banff National Park, call Parks Canada's dispatch at 403-762-1470.

“We encourage folks if they don’t get through the first time to try again because they might be on phone with other reports,” said Fisher.