Banff's new welcome sign attracts so many tourists that traffic gets majorly backed up

The new sign, meant to celebrate the mountain town of Banff, has worked a little too well.

Town tries to accommodate many visitors who pose by giant letters

The large Banff welcome sign attracts many tourists who want to take photos. That's causing traffic to back up, however. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The new sign, meant to celebrate the mountain town of Banff, has worked a little too well.

The Alberta community installed a new welcome sign, with large letters spelling out its name, at its west entrance two years ago. It drew so much attention, with drivers pulling over their vehicles to take photos, that traffic has become quite congested.

"The truth is, it's become a victim of its own success," Banff Deputy Mayor Grant Canning. "And it's become so hugely popular even beyond what we thought it would, it's created problems that we didn't really anticipate."

Now the town is trying to calm traffic around the unexpectedly popular sign. It's adding a turning lane and a crosswalk, to help tourists safely get that memento photograph. They've also added free parking along the road.

The Town of Banff is trying to find a way to incorporate tourists' interest in taking photos by the new welcome sign. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

The town is roughly 130 kilometres from Calgary and within Banff National Park, which welcomed more than four million visitors last year, according to Parks Canada.

Visitors are welcome to the town, where tourism is the largest employer, but congestion around the welcome sign can be frustrating, resident Taylor Archer said.

"It gets pretty bad. You see all the people parking and taking photos," he said.

The deputy mayor says the town wants to remodel the east entrance, too, adding a new sign, parking and more formalized crossings. For now, the town has blocked out a year to explore design options.

With files from Terri Trembath


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