Traffic Problems in Banff
Jan and Adam Waterous have lived in the Town of Banff for over 25 years and during that time, like so many of their neighbours, heard of great ideas from others on how to manage the growing vehicle congestion within the park.
As an example, intercept parking was made official town policy in 1979 and yet, almost 40 years later, not a single intercept parking lot had been built. Passenger rail service had been discontinued since 1990 and despite widespread support for reinstating passenger rail, no progress had been made in building a separate track for passenger service.
It soon became clear that no organization or governing body was working on these challenges due to limitations with their job mission or because of the real estate and infrastructure challenges that exist in a National Park.
So, Jan and Adam set out to see if they could act as private sector catalysts to unite the stakeholder groups so they could collectively tackle the issue. To address the vehicle congestion in Banff, Liricon Captial Ltd. (Jan and Adam’s family holding company) purchased the Banff Train Station as a proactive effort to build intercept parking, free of charge, and give back to the community.
How CABR Started
This is how CABR started and six years later, the proponents are making significant progress.
Liricon has been taking a science-based approach to vehicle and visitor management through the development of an integrated, innovative transportation system at the Banff Train Station. As an owner of the long-term lease for the Banff Train Station and surrounding 32 acres of land, as well as the adjacent Mt. Norquay Ski and Sightseeing Resort, Liricon is developing the Eco-Transit Hub at the station.
As an extension of the strategy to ease traffic congestion in the area, the Jan and Adam Waterous envisioned a rail system that would bring locals and tourists into Banff. To provide value to residents, businesses and the tourism sector in Alberta, the plan was expanded to include a direct rail from the Calgary Airport through downtown Calgary and out to Banff.
Currently, 80% of Banff tourists bypass the City of Calgary and go directly from the Calgary Airport to the National Park, either by hired drivers, bus or renting a vehicle, all costly modes of transportation. In addition, extended stays and additional tourism spending in one of Canada’s biggest cities, downtown Calgary, is being missed.
To further benefit Albertans and those in the Bow Valley corridor, additional stops were envisioned in Calgary West (Keith), the Town of Cochrane, Stoney Nakoda Nations and the Town of Canmore. In addition to providing rail service to Banff from these locations, it also allows for bi-way travel opportunities for work commuting and to enjoy the activities and amenities in each of these destinations.
A formal initiative started in March 2016 with Calgary, Cochrane, Canmore, and Banff seeking provincial funding for a conceptual study of the Calgary Airport to Banff Rail project.
2016 – 2019
Alberta Transportation funds study for Calgary Downtown to Banff; Liricon proposal to Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) accepted.
CIB funds study for Calgary Downtown to Airport; CIB Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Alberta Transportation.
Liricon MOU with CP Rail; CIB provides 50% of capital; Liricon
Unsolicited Proposal to Alberta Transportation.
2022 – 2024
The Government of Alberta did not provide the support necessary to progress the Design Phase in 2022 and instead in 2023 announced the Airport Connection Study which considers CABR feasibility alongside other potential regional rail projects including Edmonton to Calgary High Speed Rail and an Airport Transit Line linking the Blue and Green LRT lines. This study is due to be completed in August 2024. Hopefully the design of CABR can proceed in parallel with this study.
2025 – 2028
Anticipated three to four years of construction once Design Stage passed.