Officials with the Town of Banff and Parks Canada are asking visitors to leave their cars at home and take public transit if possible in anticipation of a very busy Canada Day long weekend.
If you need to bring your car, however, town officials are asking you to park at the free Train Station Lot because most lots will be full by 11 a.m.
Visitors can walk, cycle or take Roam Public Transit to every attraction in and around Banff, the town said.
The town and Parks Canada said they are anticipating upwards of 30,000 extra vehicles per day this long weekend.
The park will see pre-pandemic levels of visitation this year, according to stats from Banff and Lake Louise Tourism. Around four-million people visit Banff National Park in a normal year and more than 80 per cent visit the town, said the tourism organization.
“The Town of Banff has ample room for people to explore our pedestrian zone, the plaza at Bear Street and all the trails and parks around town, but with a limited area of four-square kilometres, our town has finite roads and parking that cannot accommodate vehicles if everyone chooses to drive everywhere,” Mayor Corrie DiManno said in a statement on Tuesday.
The warnings come after the Town of Banff reversed a decision to allow visitors to park on downtown residential streets, a measure that was originally planned to deal with heavy traffic during the Canada Day long weekend.
In a statement on Tuesday, town manager Kelly Gibson said the town’s administration decided to reverse the decision after listening to feedback from residents.
“We did not adequately communicate this part of our traffic mitigation plan to our community to give enough time for people to review the measure, and we received overwhelming opposition from our residents yesterday,” Gibson said.
“We are sorry for the consternation this decision caused and we hope we can rebuild the relationship with residents who rely on the town to act in the best interests of our community.”
Nancy DaDalt, director of visitor experience for Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, encourages everyone to plan ahead and book early whenever possible. Consider afternoon and mid-week visits if possible, she said.
“This is a summer of recovery for Banff and Lake Louise businesses after the devastating effects of the last two years,” DaDalt told Global News.
“Come and try some of the new experiences that don’t require a car. Enjoy a guided tour or take a stroll along the Art in Nature Trail beside the Bow River.”
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