The Banff pedestrian zone has been trending in the news lately for its controversial impact on the community. While some residents are happy to see its return to Banff this summer, others are not as thrilled. The Banff pedestrian zone has long been a point of contention since its start during COVID-19. Originally, the pedestrian zone was put into place as a pilot project in 2020. This was to ensure that social distancing could happen safely during the initial heights of the pandemic. Four years later, this project remains in full effect, raising questions about its influence on the local real estate market. 

The presence of a car-free zone in downtown Banff can significantly alter the desirability of properties in the area. Thus, impacting property values and investment opportunities. To help you better understand the ongoing debate surrounding the pedestrian zone, and how it relates to the real estate market, we wrote this blog post.

Follow along below to learn more!

All About the Banff Pedestrian Zone

As mentioned above, the Banff pedestrian zone began in 2020 during COVID-19. The project served as a way to monitor physical distancing and maintain tourism in Banff during the pandemic. This pilot project was supported by many local businesses on Banff Avenue and frequent visitors. Each year between May Long Weekend and the end of Thanksgiving, Banff closes off Banff Avenue. This occurs between the 100 and 200 blocks and disallows all vehicle traffic.

When Banff Avenue is closed off during the summer, residents and tourists can access Banff’s main attractions on foot. It also reduces the number of cars in the area and makes Banff Avenue a central plaza for pedestrians. In 2023, Banff’s elected officials voted in favour of maintaining the pedestrian zone on an annual basis. Nearly two-thirds of business owners in Banff were in favour of this decision. Moreover, numerous residents were excited about the pedestrian zone’s annual return. This was mainly because it made the town more accessible and promoted greener ways of transportation. However, the decision to make the Banff pedestrian zone a yearly occurrence did not come without backlash.  

Many long-time residents have come forward since the onset of the pedestrian zone. They have noted their concerns about how it changes the dynamics of the community. While a major purported benefit of the pedestrian zone is less traffic, residents have clarified that the pedestrian zone is not effective in this regard. Instead, it diverts traffic to local side streets and residential areas where permanent residents live. This has caused unwanted noise and traffic to make tourist areas more appealing. As such, this year, a petition to cease the pedestrian zone has come about. The town is now preparing to rescind its 2023 decision at its May 13th meeting. 

How Does the Pedestrian Zone in Banff Affect Real Estate?

With the uncertainty of the Banff pedestrian zone hanging in the balance, questions have risen about how the local real estate market will be impacted in the event of its removal. One of the main impacts that we foresee will be a change in property value. The removal of the pedestrian zone will likely restore the quiet that is usually present during the off-season in Banff. However, it could also reduce property values that have been buoyed by the attraction of a pedestrian-friendly downtown area. 

For those who own the remaining short-term rental properties in Banff, the elimination of the pedestrian zone could take away some of the appeal that these investments hold. Banff’s pedestrian zone has quickly become a main attraction for tourists visiting the town. By getting rid of the pedestrian zone, some tourists may not return or participate in town activities in the same way that they once did. Conversely, properties that were less desirable for short-term rentals may become more attractive for long-term tenants seeking a quieter living environment.

As for commercial properties, ceasing the pedestrian zone will likely mark a major shift in how commercial businesses operate during peak season. Without the pedestrian zone, businesses that rely heavily on foot traffic from the pedestrian zone may need to adjust their strategies to attract customers. The return of vehicle traffic to Banff Avenue could mean that businesses need to focus more on traditional storefront advertising and parking accessibility to draw in customers. It’s also worth considering the impact on businesses that have invested in outdoor seating and other amenities specifically designed for the pedestrian zone. The removal of the pedestrian zone could result in these businesses needing to reevaluate their outdoor setups and potentially make costly adjustments to adapt to the new traffic patterns.

Contact us Today to Learn More!

If you are interested in learning more about the Banff pedestrian zone, get in touch today

Banff is an incredible area to live and work. Reach out today to learn more about all of the amazing opportunities that come with living in Banff. For more information, feel free to message us with any questions or concerns you have about living/working in this incredible area. Be sure to check back next month for more real estate-related content! We look forward to working with you! 

Owning a house for sale in Banff is a desirable investment for nearly all Canadians. With endless amenities and jaw-dropping, 360-degree views, it’s no wonder that so many people want to call Banff home. But, how does one acquire real estate in Banff? And, is it really all that worth it to make Banff your permanent home? In this article, we hope to answer all of your most common questions about buying a house for sale in Banff. Follow along below to learn more about real estate in this famed national park. 

Why Choose Banff? The Pros.

  1. Outdoor Paradise & Lots to Do

One of the best advantages of living in Banff is that you get to experience its outdoor landscape every single day. For example, head to one of Banff’s numerous renowned ski hills like Norquay or Sunshine Village for an afternoon of hitting the slopes. Or, take your pick of one of many hiking, biking and running trails and explore the environment around you. Besides the paradise in your backyard, Banff is a cure-all for boredom. Since it is a tourist hotspot, there’s always something to do—especially, if you love being outdoors!

  1. Sense of Community

Another perk of living in Banff is the incredible sense of community. Since living in Banff is no easy feat, there is a very minimal permanent population. This helps to foster a tight-knit community.

  1. Great Business Economy

As you may have suspected, Banff’s biggest economic driver is tourism. Tourism is the primary factor in why the Banff economy has been able to do so well over the past few years. 

Why Not to Choose Banff? The Cons.

  1. Need to Reside Clause

The Need to Reside clause is something that all prospective buyers must understand. The government of Alberta has made it incredibly difficult for just anyone to purchase property in Banff. This is all with the goal of preserving the natural environment. However, unfortunately, this pushes out even the most well-intentioned buyers. In order to satisfy the Need to Reside Clause, you must have an active or planned business within the town, a blood relation to another person in the town, or have lived in the park since 1981. 

  1. Abundance of Tourists

Banff is a lot of things, but big isn’t one of them. This small mountain town gets millions of visitors every year, during all seasons. If you aren’t into the tourist town vibe, then perhaps Banff isn’t right for you. 

  1. High Cost of Living

In addition to all of this, Banff also boasts a high cost of living. Its desirability and prestige make Banff real estate in high demand. So, naturally, you can expect the price of housing and everything else to be above average. 

How to Buy a House for Sale in Banff?

Buying a house for sale in Banff is no easy feat. And, buyers must understand that owning a home in a national park like Banff comes with some caveats. So, let’s say that you meet the Need to Reside Clause and are able to now purchase a property in Banff: how do you do it? 

Well, buying a home in Banff is similar to buying a home anywhere else in Canada—with the exception that all properties in Banff are held in a leasehold title ownership. This means that those who buy a home in Banff will only have ownership over the structure(s) on the property, but not the land itself. Contrastively, when you buy a home in other cities in Canada, your ownership is generally fee simple. This allows you to own both the land and buildings on it. 

Who Can Live in Banff?

The only people who can live in Banff are the ones who are eligible by the Need to Reside clause. Some of the reasons that you may be permitted to live in Banff include:

  • Business owners who operate a business in the park that is necessary for day-to-day operations
  • Those who live in the park for five successive years directly before they retire. 
  • Anyone who is a full-time student at a school within the park
  • Any person who is a spouse, common-law partner, or dependent of an employee of the park
  • Anyone who has primary employment in the park

Contact us About Buying a House for Sale in Banff!

If you are interested in purchasing a house for sale in Banff contact us today! Banff is an incredible area to own a property. Reach out today to learn more about all of the amazing opportunities that come with living in real estate in Banff. For more information, feel free to message us with any questions or concerns you have about living in this amazing city. Be sure to check back next month for more real estate-related content and visit our social media page! We look forward to working with you in the near future!