Congratulations to the Towns of Banff and Canmore for moving ahead with paid parking proposals intended to reduce traffic congestion and associated greenhouse gas emissions (GHGe), while protecting residential parking.
These proposals do not represent yet another fee; rather, paid parking re-distributes a silent charge on all taxpayers to an explicit charge for those who use public parking lots.
Car infrastructure in North America (and the Bow Valley is no exception) is heavily subsidized. Each public parking space in Canmore is estimated to be worth $75,000, and at present, the Town is not getting any return on those spaces.
All motorists who park in town (including large numbers of tourists) are using expensive infrastructure for free. The proposals brought forward by both the Towns of Canmore and Banff include multiple mechanisms to reduce impact and costs to residents.
Revenue generated through paid parking can be used to fund improvements to non-car transport modes. These improvements could include expansion of walking and bike paths, increased winter maintenance on walking and bike paths to improve safety, more bike racks and, as identified in this paper’s Nov. 21, 2019 editorial, increasing the accessibility of Roam transit through a combination of lowering transit fare rates and increasing service. Such initiatives will help the municipalities reach their goals of increasing non-car trips into town.
Expanding the local transit system should be based upon data: where are additional routes needed, and with what frequency? Canmore is a sprawling community, but people can nonetheless usually reach their destination by car in under 10 minutes. For transit to be a viable alternative to private vehicles, trip times on the local system may need to be reduced. As the town considers increasing route numbers and frequency of service, it could also consider whether large bus sizes are necessary, or whether more, smaller buses (less expensive with lower emissions) would be a more efficient option.
Finally, the Towns of Canmore and Banff should think Bow Valley-wide in their strategies to reduce GHGs from vehicle traffic. For example, they might consider reducing the cost of regional Roam service. Reducing the regional Roam rate by a couple of dollars per pass, and perhaps adding another bus at high-demand times could go a long way to taking more cars off the highway.
Haley Milko & Diana MacGibbon,
Bow Valley Climate Action,