A Banff conservationist is calling for a cap on the number of visitors to the national park.
Harvey Locke says the influx is not only threatening the ecology of the park but the visitor experience especially at the top attractions like Moraine Lake and Banff’s townsite.
“We just need to establish a limit on the number of people who are going to go there on a given day. If we need to set up an online booking service, we can and this is totally normal in global tourism,” said Locke.
He added: “This is just being adult grown-ups and honouring this place and not overwhelming it and having the courage to say that, ‘Sometimes, the football is sold out… sometimes, Moraine Lake is sold out.’”
According to new numbers released by Parks Canada, 1.3 million visitors have passed through the gates the past two months alone.
It has been the trend over the last three years with the numbers slightly higher in 2017 when passes were free. Parks Canada has no plans to limit the number of visitors.
“We have no current plans about quotas or caps. We are taking a number of initiatives at different location transit, parking restrictions. Ecological health is monitored as well as visitor expectations,” said Parks Canada’s Greg Danchuk.
Banff’s mayor says the town has the infrastructure to handle the numbers. It’s just about getting people out of their cars and taking transit — a shift she feels is starting to happen.
“My experience is people are getting around easier… our numbers on Banff local transit are up 50 per cent from last summer.”
While overall numbers are steady, there was a four per cent decline in the number of visitors in the month of August compared to last year. Parks Canada said smoke from wildfires may have kept people away.
Despite that, Parks Canada said its campgrounds in Banff National Park remained 100 per cent occupied.