Parks Canada to create expert panel to advise on a long-term framework for how visitors will get around the Bow Valley and experience Banff National Park in the future

News release

November 3, 2020                       Banff, Alberta                            Parks Canada Agency

Parks Canada is committed to maintaining ecological integrity and to providing Canadians with opportunities to discover and enjoy national parks.

Today, Parks Canada announced that it will create an expert panel to advise the Agency on the development of a long-term framework for the sustainable movement of visitors in the Bow Valley in Banff National Park.

Banff National Park is one of the world’s most iconic protected places, known for its leadership in natural and cultural conservation and for providing exceptional visitor experiences. Parks Canada, together with Indigenous communities, environmental NGOs, business operators and many key stakeholders, has made great strides over the last 30 years in welcoming millions of visitors each year while making significant advancements in protecting the park’s ecological and cultural values. Key to the long-term success of these ongoing efforts is the ability of people to move around safely and in a sustainable manner. Today’s announcement underscores Parks Canada’s intent to be inclusive and far reaching in framing the public discussion for the long-term framework, based on science, evidence and the perspectives of Canadians.  

The panel will be asked to consider transportation modes and networks, as well as other strategies and tools relating to how people access, move about and use the park – including new technologies, infrastructure changes, and systems for communication and access. The panel will consider ways to ensure that ecological integrity and conservation of habitat and biodiversity are priorities. It will explore and advise on the use of alternative and renewable energy while reducing waste. And it will provide insights on how to provide diverse mobility options to visitors and residents giving people more choices on how they meet their access needs.

Through this initiative, Banff National Park will become a “living laboratory” for integrating smart mobility technologies into the whole visitor experience, testing new ideas, collecting data, and informing research on energy efficient transportation technologies and systems.

When completed, the framework will recognize the unique context of national park exploration and that one approach does not fit all. It will be an example of how big-picture thinking, comprehensive planning and ‘green’ transport can help secure positive visitor experiences and an environmentally and economically sustainable future for the park and areas beyond. Now more than ever, Canadians are aware of the importance of access to natural and cultural settings, like Banff National Park. The framework will ensure that the ways of getting to and moving about are as much a part of the national park experience and legacy, as its landscapes, and natural and cultural resources.

In the coming months, Parks Canada will engage Indigenous partners, key stakeholders and the public to develop a terms of reference for the expert panel. Parks Canada will seek panel members with expertise in a variety of areas, including protected area management, transportation innovation, technology, and tourism.

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“Banff National Park is a national treasure enjoyed by millions of visitors from across Canada and around the world every year. Ensuring that this iconic place is protected and enjoyed now and by future generations requires a commitment to constant improvement and innovation. There is an opportunity now to develop a new vision and transform the way that people access and move through the Bow Valley in Banff National Park. With the creation of an expert panel, Parks Canada seeks to build upon 30 years of past achievements and create the conditions for future success by ensuring that new knowledge, new ideas and new evidence inform our important work as an international leader in protected areas management and as the largest heritage tourism provider in Canada. We owe future generations nothing less.

Ron Hallman,
President and Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency

“As the Town of Banff strives to be a model environmental community, we are thrilled at the prospect of an expert panel to develop leading-edge ideas on green transportation for Banff National Park. We consider transportation of people to Banff and throughout Canada’s first national park as the ‘missing link’ to making this special place a truly sustainable community and park. Together with current leadership in ecosystem protection and achievements in sustainable energy use, waste diversion and effective public transit, this initiative promises to accelerate our journey to solutions that will help millions of visitors each year conserve locally, and inspire globally.”

Karen Sorensen,
Mayor of the Town of Banff

“Banff National Park is among the world’s most incredible places to visit. Banff and Lake Louise Tourism is excited about these important next steps – this planning and big picture thinking will help ensure that Banff remains environmentally sustainable while welcoming visitors from around the globe.”

Leslie Bruce
President and CEO, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism

Quick facts

  • Established in 1885, Banff National Park was the first national park in Canada and is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • On average, more than four million visitors come to Banff National Park annually for a variety of activities including hiking, biking, skiing and camping in some of the world’s most breathtaking mountain scenery.

  • Over the last 10 years, vehicle traffic in the park has increased 30 percent overall, with some specific locations such as the road leading to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, showing increases of up to 70 percent. Approximately 8.3 million vehicles travel into the park each year, with roughly half of these carrying park visitors and the other half travelling through to other destinations.

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Media Relations
Parks Canada Agency

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