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Banff pedestrian zone decision overturned by petition

A proposal to permanently turn Banff Avenue into a pedestrian zone from May long weekend until Thanksgiving long weekend every year was overturned by a petition.

According to a news release on Monday, the petition to overturn Banff town council’s decision in January was declared valid after a small review team was struck when the petition was received on March 1.

Town staff will prepare a bylaw to rescind the pedestrian zone decision for council consideration at its May 13 meeting. Within 30 days of the first reading of the bylaw, Banff town council must decide if they want to pass the bylaw or put the decision to a vote of the electorate within 90 days of the bylaw’s first reading. Council could also decide to pass all three readings on May 13.

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In January, the Town of Banff decided to permanently fund the pedestrian zone project as part of its annual operating budget, despite Parks Canada raising concerns about the commercialization of public space.

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Banff National Park’s superintendent Salman Rasheed said at the time he supports pedestrian-friendly spaces but raised concerns about the permanent and ongoing expansion of the patios, which he said is contrary to laws that ensure the national park is protected.

Some residents have also raised concerns because it moves traffic through their neighbourhoods and could block off an exit route in a potential wildfire evacuation.

However, tourism officials said the pedestrian zone has been extremely popular with visitors.

— with files from The Canadian Press.

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