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Dollars already a 2012 news item

We’re barely a week into 2012 and dollars are again top news in the Bow Valley. Dollars are always a hot topic, particularly when they pertain to how many taxpayers will be shelling out.

We’re barely a week into 2012 and dollars are again top news in the Bow Valley.

Dollars are always a hot topic, particularly when they pertain to how many taxpayers will be shelling out.

We closed 2011 on the subject of municipal budgets and dollars; specifically whether Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen should receive more of them as the municipal head of one of this country’s premiere tourist destinations.

Being that Sorensen earns half the salary of Canmore’s mayor, that situation is easily rectified by Banff council voting for a raise.

This week, dollars are back in the news, with Banff council pondering user pay parking – a topic soundly panned by residents in a 2000 plebiscite – at the same time as Parks Canada inks a cheque for a $50,000 study to identify new revenue sources.

Banff the town and Banff the national park need to be careful in both of these endeavours as at some point, tourists may not want to bear the brunt of further fees as they attempt to experience what the town and park have to offer.

Being that Banff the town is a major attraction for rubber tire tourists, charging for parking while altering Bear Street to be more pedestrian friendly and vehicle unfriendly (page 16), might put a damper on visits for those who already pay to drive into the national park.

There are also problems associated with Parks Canada wanting first a two per cent increase in tourism and now more revenue generated by its national parks (page 13).

While many would like to see things like via ferrata bolted to mountainsides and ski areas opened up to summer usage, those moves would challenge Parks’ own mandate, which, according to its website, states, ‘national parks are a countrywide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations.’

We assume that, as many Parks sites are in remote regions where visitation is minimal and highly unlikely to increase, the responsibility to increase tourism and revenue will fall mostly on parks with highway access like Banff, which already have high visitation numbers.

Trying to increase revenues could also pit a taxpayer-funded operation like Parks against business operations within a park – in Banff’s case. Even in producing a clothing line which allows national park enthusiasts to proudly wear a T-shirt or hoodie emblazed with the iconic beaver logo, Parks could be taking dollars out of the tills of Banff Avenue souvenir shops.

Anytime Parks steps away from its stated mandate, it seems, pitfalls appear.

Then again, and still on the topic of dollars, while an estimated $2.5 million may be on the horizon in the hosting of the 2014 Alberta Winter Games, co-hosted by Banff and Canmore, thus far there is a lack of support from the Banff business community when it comes to joining the organizing committee.

Being that the games are likely to attract about 2,800 athletes, coaches and technicians, participating in 24 different sports, and that they should prove to be a massive showcase of everything the Bow Valley has to offer, we hope the situation can be rectified.

Staging of a successful games event could prove to be a boost to tourism in the area for decades afterward as those teams members, as well as friends, family and fans, return to a location they remember with fondness.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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The Rocky Mountain Outlook is Bow Valley's No. 1 source for local news and events.
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