Banff edges close to population cap
Consultant report warns mountain town headed for critical housing shortage
A new study shows the population of Banff could spill over the 8,000-resident cap set by Parks Canada in the next couple of years.
More than 7,200 people currently call the mountain town home.
The report, done by Calgary-based Housing Strategies Inc., lays out the housing needs for the town over the next 10 years.
It concludes the mountain community could soon face a critical housing shortage.
That prospect has Mayor Karen Sorensen worried.
"I think we're at 1.2 per cent vacancy, which is incredibly low, and we need to, as a council and town, address that issue," she said.
Park Superintendent Dave McDonough, said as officials address the issue, a balance must be struck between environmental beauty and economic necessity.
"How do we provide affordable housing and maintain this as a special unique viable community that it is," he said.
Sorensen and McDonough have met to talk about the study and are now looking into ways to address the housing issue.
The town set its own slightly higher population cut-off in a community planning document.
"In the park's management plan I believe the wording is the intention to try and not exceed 8,000. And in the Banff community plan it says that we would not exceed 10,000," she said.
"Somewhere in there I think the two organizations are agreeing that we need a balanced population."
Lauren Aspden, who works at a Banff jewelry shop, said she likes her small town just the way it is.
"I don't really want anyone else living here. I think the cap right now is good," she said.
Judge rejects review of obstetrics closure
Banff’s population growth does not appear to be driven by local births.
Officials decided last year to shut down the obstetrics department at Mineral Springs Hospital, saying the volume of births in Banff has been decreasing and it was difficult to attract nurses with the necessary skills.
This week a Court of Queen's Bench judge dismissed an application to order a review of that decision.
The hospital in nearby Canmore now handles planned deliveries for Banff mothers.