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Banff will continue with pedestrian zone, but seeking more detail on patios

Click to play video: 'Banff Ave. project update: Mayor DiManno optimistic about future despite challenges'
Banff Ave. project update: Mayor DiManno optimistic about future despite challenges
WATCH: Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno joins Global News to discuss town council's recent decision to continue funding the Banff Avenue pedestrian zone, despite concerns from Parks Canada. – Jan 18, 2024

An Alberta tourist town in Canada’s busiest national park plans to continue its popular downtown pedestrian zone from May long weekend until Thanksgiving long weekend each year.

The Town of Banff has decided to permanently fund the project, which began during the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of its annual operating budget.

It is, however, still unclear whether the town would be able to continue to allow outdoor restaurant patios in that pedestrian zone after Parks Canada raised concerns about the commercialization of public space.

Salman Rasheed, who’s a superintendent for Banff National Park, has said he supports pedestrian-friendly plans but he has concerns about the permanent and ongoing expansion of the patios.

He says it’s contrary to laws that ensure the national park is protected.

Some residents have also raised concerns about the permanent closure of the blocks on Banff Avenue, because it moves traffic through their neighbourhoods and could block off an exit route in a potential wildfire evacuation.

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Tourism officials say the pedestrian zone has been extremely popular with visitors to the mountain town.

Click to play video: 'Safety concerns force Banff town council to look at options for popular attraction'
Safety concerns force Banff town council to look at options for popular attraction

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