Banff mayor stressed about traffic in 2017, when park entry is free
Parks Canada will be meeting with town officials to come up with a plan
Banff isn't prepared for the influx of vehicles expected in the Rocky Mountain town next year, the mayor warns.
To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, admission to national parks will be free in 2017, including Banff National Park.
"It's the number of vehicles that are causing us stress," said Karen Sorensen, mayor of the town of Banff. "Even this last summer, we had 80 per cent of our days in July, August that fell over what we consider our vehicle-per-day capacity of 24,000 vehicles."
Superintendent Dave McDonough said Parks Canada will be meeting with town officials to come up with a plan, which may include parking lots outside of the townsite to intercept traffic.
"I can understand the concern, but I'm confident that particularly as we develop a co-ordinated strategy, that we'll ensure that visitors have a great experience and any congestion issues or parking issues will be minimized as a result."
Sorensen, however, said there just isn't the time. "When I think about real operational tactics, like additional transit or intercept parking lots …I'm just not sure that can happen in this timeframe."
Sorensen said she wants to collaborate with Parks Canada to develop solutions that will work not just for 2017, but in the long term.