Skip to content

MD residents hoping to work with Canmore for paid parking solution

“We feel like tourists. We don’t feel like we are being treated like neighbours and part of a community. We feel like we are being treated like the rest of the world who come to visit Canmore.”
Town centre paid parking
Downtown paid parking in the Town of Canmore. SUBMITTED PHOTO

CANMORE – As Canmore implements paid parking in the town centre a year after it did the same at Quarry Lake, MD of Bighorn residents feel left out and treated like tourists.

Canmore is implementing paid parking as it tries to reach a 40 per cent non-vehicle travel goal by 2030 during the summer season. Pay parking will allow the cost of transit and new infrastructure to be shared by Canmore residents and businesses. Currently, Canmore residents can receive a Canmore Resident Pass for parking, but not MD residents.

“Paid parking was being discussed as of 2015 when we brought in the local transit. It has been a long time coming,” said Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert. “As far as the 40 per cent goes, we have to recognize that still includes people arriving by vehicle, but if they have to stay in a hotel, leaving their car in the hotel parking lot and taking trails or transit to their destination.”

The downtown parking change has many in the MD wondering why they are not being included.

“Canmore does not want people to drive. I understand what they are trying to do,” said Exshaw Community Association President Steve Fitzmorris. “I don’t understand why they are not willing to work with the other communities.”

Within the town centre, many people from the MD of Bighorn work for, or own, local businesses, something that should be taken into consideration says Fitzmorris.

“Over the years, a large number of people have left Canmore due to affordability. They now live in Exshaw,” he said. “These people own businesses. They work for local businesses, and they support all the other community facilities that Canmore has to offer.”

Krausert said that the rationale behind paid parking is to encourage a transportation mode shift. He added that he is working with MD Reeve Lisa Rosvold to find a solution.

“The solution is not simply to offer passes for those who would be arriving by vehicle,” he said. “I certainly empathize with their desire for a parking pass. I am working with Reeve Rosvold to try and find a solution, especially for those residents of the MD who are working downtown. I would like to find a solution as soon as possible.”

In a February correspondence between the Town and the MD, Rosvold asked the Town to offer monthly passes to residents of Bighorn. She noted residents were willing to pay and that not having such a pass is a concern for many in the municipality.

"Although we reside in the MD, our Bow Valley residents use local schools, post offices, grocery stores, pharmacies, doctors, dentists and play on or coach Canmore sports teams, own businesses or work within the Town of Canmore," Rosvold wrote in a Feb. 7 letter to the Town. "Our residents may not live in Canmore, but we are part of the fabric of the Canmore community, and proud to be."

Bighorn residents are not looking for free parking, according to the association, but for some sort of pass or discounted rate due to the frequency residents use the town centre of Canmore.

“I acknowledge that we don’t pay into the Canmore tax base, but I think a reasonably priced monthly or yearly pass would be acceptable,” said Exshaw Community Association vice-president Stephanie Barr. “I wish that Canmore council took into consideration the MD community around Canmore because of how we are intertwined.”

“[The MD has] offered to even have a discounted rate at least, or a pass that we could buy as a local, but we are not being considered local,” Fitzmorris said. “We understand what Canmore is trying to get to, but we would like to be more part of the plan, not just left on the outside.”

There are currently no plans to expand the Canmore Resident Pass to MD residents. With most MD visitors coming in by car, the Town states Canmore residents then need to make up an even larger share of trips by foot, bicycle, and transit to offset the impacts of visitors from outlying communities and day trip visitors.

“I get why Canmore residents get the exemption,” said president of the Dead Man’s Flats Community Association Chris Long. “On the flip side, they probably need it less than people coming in from elsewhere. They can just jump on a bike or walk downtown. We have to make that extra step of always bringing our vehicles.”

With so many MD residents working and shopping on a regular basis in the Town centre, Fitzmorris says they should not be treated the same as people travelling through.

“We feel like tourists. We don’t feel like we are being treated like neighbours and part of a community. We feel like we are being treated like the rest of the world who come to visit Canmore."

Long said for people who work downtown, it is an added cost for them.

"If we could have the opportunities where we could sign up for a three-hour parking pass, or get exemptions, it would be a nice gesture,” Long said. “I think of the Bow Valley as the Bow Valley, and that it is one big community.”

The Town will be providing 200 free parking stalls within a five-to-10-minute walking distance of the Town centre.

The parking is available to anyone to park when working or visiting the downtown.

“Moms or dads with young kids have to haul in the stroller and everything so they can walk the 10 minutes and enjoy shops there,” Barr said. “Maybe they would do it a few times a week, but not if they have to second guess it. It is not convenient for seniors either.”

She added that the parking cost could have a financial impact on businesses in Canmore as MD residents adjust their plans in the community.

“MD residents will reconsider where they are going. I stop downtown a couple times a week now,” she said. “If I have to pay or walk five or ten minutes to get to whatever store I want to go to, it will be second-guessed.”

Going forward, the Town will monitor the paid parking program to see what needs to be changed.

“An important part of all this, while our paid parking is going to be implemented based on lessons learned in the Town of Banff and Quarry Lake, is we are going to continue to monitor paid parking and adjust it accordingly as needed,” Krausert said.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks