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Buskers get new location on Banff's Bear Street

“As seen from events such as SnowDays and the revitalization/reopening of Bear Street, live music has proven to be a successful addition to the space."

BANFF – Buskers can now perform on the 200 block of Bear Street as part of a plan to further animate the pedestrian-friendly downtown area.

On Monday (Sept. 11), Banff council updated busking locations and guidelines to allow a new busking location on Bear Street, while removing one of two locations on the 200 block of Banff Avenue by the information centre.

Local musician Aaron Smith called for a new location on Bear Street following its $9.5 million shared street redesign and beautification with people-friendly open spaces and slow vehicle speeds.

He said he feels updating the locations meets the intended purpose of Bear Street – a shared community-minded social space, encouraging an unhurried pace and enticing people to use Bear Street as an alternative to Banff Avenue.

“As seen from events such as SnowDays and the revitalization/reopening of Bear Street, live music has proven to be a successful addition to the space,” said Smith.

Banff’s five busking locations now include Bear Street at the northwest corner of the surface parking lot, Central Park not including the gazebo, the southwest corner of the Banff Avenue/Buffalo Street intersection and southwest corner of Banff Avenue/ Elk Street.

The fifth location is Parks Canada’s Banff Avenue Square park, which has been reduced in size and located closer to the sidewalk on Banff Avenue. This is a result of the federal agency’s concerns over potential liabilities of buskers performing in the circle area.

In Banff, buskers must get a permit and pay a fee in order to perform. Time limits are also set for certain areas and buskers are encouraged to give enough space so as not to interfere with each other’s performances.

Stan Andronyk, the manager of municipal enforcement for the Town of Banff, said there have been very few concerns or complaints regarding buskers over the past several years.

That said, he noted some of the issues include buskers performing outside of allowed hours or setting up on areas that are not designated for busking.

“There are also some that would be considered more a street performer than a busker who have obtained permits and attract large crowds,” said Andronyk.

The municipal enforcement department is not in a position to enforce after-hours complaints, said Andronyk, but he said issues are typically resolved in a timely manner.

“Overall, if there is any type of issue, it is dealt with cordially,” he said.

The number of busking permits issued by the Town of Banff has remained steady since 2018, although there were no permits issued in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic. In 2018, there were 40 permits issued, 30 in 2019, 22 in 2022 and 25 this year.

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