CANMORE – Two new areas could soon be added to Canmore’s visitor paid parking program.
The Town’s finance committee recommended Riverside Park and the boat launch by the Bow River bridge be added to the program for 2024.
“Both of those areas are incredibly busy,” said Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert. “I think in addition to turnover, I hope this will bring a little more order in those areas by making the roadway by the boat launch paid parking and the neighbourhood resident permit parking, I’m hoping that will serve the community well there as well as control some traffic and turnover.”
The move, if approved by council, would be comes as a way to manage the two busy areas that see significant traffic from Bow River users and visitors to the popular Engine Bridge.
The area is often full – particularly on spring, summer and fall weekends and holidays – leading to it being one of the busier areas in the community.
“Parking by Riverside Park is reckless, so let’s get some order there,” said Coun. Jeff Mah.
A staff report stated Riverside Park and the boat launch area were considered to eventually be added when the paid parking program began due to high demand in those areas.
“Parking demand in Riverside Park has historically been relatively high, and with visitation to the Engine Bridge increasing, demand has grown,” according to the report.
The potential addition of the two areas is expected to bring in an estimated $70,000 in revenue.
If approved by council in December, the areas would be added to paid parking Jan. 1, 2024. From Jan. 1 to May 14 and Oct. 16 to Dec. 31, 2024, it would be $2 an hour. It would increase to $4 an hour from May 15 to Oct. 15, 2024 and weekends and holidays between Oct. 16 to Dec. 31, 2024 would be $3 an hour.
The three free hours under the resident parking program would be available for the areas, similar to all other areas of paid parking.
While council was supportive of adding the two areas, Coun. Wade Graham raised concerns of residents and impacted businesses in the area not being consulted for the potential change.
“It’s too busy,” he said of the areas, calling the boat launch area “dysfunctional” due to the busyness. “It’s too much going on and my hesitation was the conversations we didn’t have with certain user groups and I would’ve liked to have seen those beforehand, but hopefully we can have those in the near future.”
Andy Esarte, the Town’s manager of engineering, said residents hadn’t been consulted but would be informed prior to any possible changes taking place. He noted they’d “listen to feedback on the extent of the zones if it were to be approved,” as well as a resident permit parking being needed.
Krausert said with traffic and road maintenance being technical issues, a fulsome public engagement wasn’t needed. He cautioned the Town would “be in big trouble” if public engagement was needed every time a change on roads took place.
“I’m not saying public engagement is bad, but there’s a time and a place for it and we’re not talking about a change of use in the sense of people can park there now and there’s parking problems,” he said. “It’s about how to manage that flow and that is an expertise.”
The Town’s manager of municipal infrastructure Whitney Smithers said municipal staff would handle the potential growth of a resident parking permit or expansion of paid parking similar to other areas such as Peaks of Grassi by making adjustments where possible after hearing from residents.
Adam Robertson, the Town’s manager of communications, said there was public engagement when the paid parking was created and the program has evolved since first approved by council.
“As far as public engagement around our paid parking program, there’s been lots done. … We have an established program and I don’t think there’s an opportunity to make changes to it, which is why we wouldn’t go out and ask anything,” he said. “But where we are now has come from a lot of public engagement.”
In addition to the parking management aspect, Coun. Joanna McCallum said it could assist with potential infrastructure needs in the area.
“I hope to see some improvements to the boat launch parking as well as the extra care taken on River Road on how snow and ice is managed,” she said. “The drainage there is not the best and perhaps a future revisit for the area in general, not just for visitors that are going to be parking there, but for the residents living there.”
RIVERSIDE PARK AND BOAT LAUNCH POTENTIAL ADDITION
- Jan. 1 to May 14, 2024: $2 an hour
- May 15 to Oct. 15, 2024: $4 an hour
- Oct. 16 to Dec. 31, 2024: $2 an hour
- Oct. 16 to Dec. 31, 2024 on weekends and holidays: $3 an hour