CANMORE – An initial one-year pilot program for e-bike guided tours will continue in 2022 to collect more data and information to see if it’s worth continuing.
The partnership between the Town of Canmore and Banff-based White Mountain Adventures saw limited uptake from visitors to the region, which is believed to be due to the low amount of international travel this past summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“E-bikes are becoming more prevalent in the valley and currently are one of the few motorized vehicles that can operate on our trail system under our current bylaws,” said Eleanor Miclette, the Town of Canmore's manager of economic development.
According to a staff report, there were a total of 15 trips with 37 participants taking part. About half of the people were from Ontario, while others came from Manitoba, Alberta, Ohio and New Jersey.
There wasn’t data on what participants on the tours were spending while in Canmore, but that could be looked at in 2022.
The pilot project was approved by the previous council to run for at least 2021. E-bike tours would go between Canmore and Banff on the Legacy Trail as well as some areas in the town of Canmore.
“We have a number of companies that rent e-bikes,” Miclette said. “We have only White Mountain, that we are aware of, that offer tours and there are other requests. We deal with them on a case-by-case basis. Currently, our bylaws don’t allow for Segways or scooters.”
The staff report highlighted how Town staff have frequently received requests to run e-bike, scooter, Segway, beer bike and horse and wagon tours. However, except for e-bikes, the other types of transit would need a bylaw change.
The report also emphasized there are no municipal bylaws that prevent e-bike tours using Town infrastructure, meaning White Mountain Adventures didn’t have to enter a partnership, although the two sides worked with one another for the pilot.
“We are seeing more of this come to the forefront, so be more pro-active rather than reactive in how we can mitigate what we’re seeing as a growth in requests,” Miclette said.
“It does help understand what type of tourists are operating on our Town trails and where we need to mitigate or maybe work with providers to look at alternative ways so you’re not convoluting usage.”
A memorandum of understanding between White Mountain Adventures and the Town of Canmore set group size limitations, pre-approved routes and required a report on operations.
White Mountain Adventures stated they ran the program daily throughout the summer, only eight per cent of its guided e-bike business came from the project.
“Unless it’s required a company comes and speaks to the Town, we’ll have some doing one thing and others doing another thing, so we probably need to be more clear whether they have to or not,” Mayor Sean Krausert said.
There were no complaints received about the pilot project, according to the staff report.
“We’re moving in the right way,” Miclette said. “I think we can do better in having a clear framework in when can we say 'yes' and when can we say 'no' and what do we base that on.
“When it comes to e-bikes, for years we’ve allowed bike tours to operate in our valley. E-bikes are just motorized and become more accessible for those who might not be able to ride a conventional bike.”