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LETTER: Transit should look at visitor fee

Editor: The article about the proposed Banff Avenue pedestrian zone in 2022 and 2023 in the Dec. 16 Outlook, contains, inter alia, the comment that Banff’s governance and finance committee has tentatively approved “free transit for Banff residents on

Editor:

The article about the proposed Banff Avenue pedestrian zone in 2022 and 2023 in the Dec. 16 Outlook, contains, inter alia, the comment that Banff’s governance and finance committee has tentatively approved free transit for Banff residents on local routes.

In regard to the free local transit proposal, may I draw the Roam transit commission and Banff council’s attention to what is commonly done in Switzerland? There the adjacent tourist-orientated towns of Davos and Klosters impose a visitor tax, which in part funds free transit on the local buses within each community and, importantly, also funds free travel on the trains which connect the two communities.

From my travels to numerous tourist destinations across Europe, I have observed that similar visitor taxes are common.

Assuming that free local transit is provided for Banff residents, there is no reason that access to free local transit should not be extended to each hotel and bed and breakfast guest on payment – by the guest – of a set daily amount to cover access to Banff's local transit service for routes 1 and 2 without further payment.

Hotel and bed and breakfast guests opting to pay the Roam access fee would be entitled to ride anywhere within Banff for free – the same access as would be accorded to Banff residents – all other visitors to Banff would continue to be charged on a per ride basis.

The ability to take Banff transit to other destinations such as Lake Louise (Route 8), Johnson Canyon (Route 9); and Moraine Lake (Route 10) could be considered as future enhancements – at additional cost – to the optional transit access fee system.

Importantly, if the Roam transit access fee was an optional extra for hotel and bed and breakfast guests, I don’t believe that the Town of Banff would fall foul of any Parks Canada or provincial policy, nor jeopardize the town’s long ongoing attempt to be declared a tourist municipality. Extension of free travel for Banff and Canmore locals on Route 3 between Banff and Canmore would need an agreement with Canmore council and, of course, would require Canmore to also impose an optional Roam access fee for all hotel, bed and breakfasts, and other overnight guests staying in the town.

Ian Neuhaus,

Canmore