Banff's pedestrian zone will be starting 2024 May Long Weekend, with a planned vote for August 12 for eligible voters of the town to decide whether or not to have a pedestrian zone on Banff Avenue every summer. 

"Parks Canada has approved the continuation of the pilot to include restaurant patios and retail displays while working with the Town on future decisions about commercial activity in the public realm," an update on the Town of Banff's website stated. 

The pedestrian zone will be in the same format as in 2023, inclusive of commercial development (i.e., restaurant patios and outlets) on public lands and the roadway open to pedestrians, bicycles and Roam Transit; it will continue until Thanksgiving Long Weekend or until a few weeks after the vote if the majority vote against the pedestrian zone.

"The decision to hold a vote was triggered by a petition to change council’s decision to have an annual pedestrian zone from May Long Weekend to Thanksgiving Long Weekend. A petition is part of a democratic process enabled by the Municipal Government Act (MGA) with specific requirements," the Town explained.

Last year, the Town of Banff and Parks Canada engaged in a series of discussions on the topic. In early 2024,  Banff Town Council and administration received additional correspondence from Parks Canada requesting further debate around public lands' commercial development (i.e., restaurant patios and retail outlets). 

"Through these discussions and letters, Parks Canada has continued to confirm its support for pedestrian-friendly initiatives and public seating and spaces but would like to discuss and better understand the commercial development of public lands," The Town said. "This is because, when it comes to private commercial development of public lands, for decades, Canadians have demanded, and Parks Canada and the Town of Banff have committed to careful management and protection of public spaces in Banff."

In response, Banff Town Council directed the administration to continue its ongoing discussions with Parks Canada on the matter. The Town and Parks Canada looks forward to continued discussions to ensure an aligned outcome.

However, the town outlined that, notwithstanding the ongoing engagement with Parks Canada, the Town will continue with an additional year of commercial development (i.e., restaurant patios and retail outlets) on the roads and sidewalks of downtown Banff.

"... Which originated as part of the safety response to the COVID pandemic and continued with piloting the annual pedestrian zone as part of the economic recovery strategy."

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