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!