Banff Greyhound depot relocation stalled
By: Cathy Ellis
| Posted: Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 06:00 am
The wheels have fallen off the bus on a proposal to relocate the Greyhound depot in Banff from the train station to the Banff International Hostel on Banff Avenue.
On a tied 3-3 vote, Banff council turned down a local businessman’s request to consider allowing passenger terminals for buses in the commercial accommodation (CA) district.
But council did send a message to Greyhound that they would like to see improved customer service at the train station depot, where there is no nighttime indoor waiting area.
“I had an experience where the bus was delayed for two hours and it was minus 25 degrees and there were a bunch of people standing outside a closed bus station,” Councillor Chip Olver said. “It was a very unpleasant experience.”
Greyhound presently operates under a temporary development permit at the Banff train station, with about 12 buses coming through each day at various times.
The Banff International Hostel asked council to rezone the CA district to allow for Greyhound buses there. Under the Land Use Bylaw, passenger terminals are neither permitted or discretionary in that district.
“This would improve the service for Greyhound and the town,” said Torsten Merker, owner/operator of Banff International Hostel.
“We could share staff, we would have 24-hour reception and a waiting area, offer Internet access and sell sandwiches and things like that.”
Merker said he did not believe the buses would add congestion to Banff’s streets, as the hostel (formerly known as Samesun Backpackers) is far away enough from downtown Banff.
“We hope that by moving the terminal from the train station we can provide a much higher quality service for locals and guests,” he said.
Council expressed concern about the impact the arrival and departure of at least five buses in the night and early morning hours would have on neighbouring hotels, as well as residents in the area.
“This is adding a completely new use in this district and I do not believe it is a compatible use in this district,” said Coun. Stavros Karlos.
“It butts up against residential in almost every area and this is also an accommodation district; a sleeping district.”
Mayor Karen Sorensen said Merker’s proposal was admirable given the current situation at the train station, but she had great concerns about the effects on the neighbourhood, particularly at night.
“I’ve given this a lot of thought, but for me, it’s the hours of operation that are a big concern,” she said. “Between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. in what is a hotel district – that’s the straw for me.”
Coun. Paul Baxter was absent from the meeting, but councillors Chip Olver, Leslie Taylor and Grant Canning voiced support for at least considering the change.
“I do think the current bus station is not acceptable and hasn’t been for a long time, and I think this is worth looking at,” Coun. Canning said.
Last year, Sorensen fired off a letter to Greyhound Canada in a bid to encourage the national bus company to improve customer service at its bus stop at the Banff train station.
“Greyhound, we hope something happens,” said Sorensen at this week’s meeting.
Greyhound officials at Monday’s council meeting indicated there were no plans to open the bus terminal at the train station 24-hours a day, saying the appeal of the Banff International Hostel proposal was sharing staffing costs.
“It comes down to cost. We can’t afford to have that station here open 24-hours-a-day,” said a company spokesman at the meeting.