If you haven’t been to Banff National Park, I suggest you add it to your to do list. The Rocky Mountains, glacial lakes and expansive forests make it one of the most beautiful places on earth. The Town of Banff is a great spot as well — as the service centre for the park, you’ll find the renowned Banff Centre for the Arts, some delicious restaurants and boutique shops. You’ll also find a lot of tourists. The Town itself is 4 square kilometers with about 9,000 residents, yet it attracts over 4 million tourists a year. These circumstances lead to a unique set of challenges for the Town.

Last year, our team at Intelligent Futures wrote the Town’s Environmental Master Plan. The dual challenge of accepting visitors from around the world while also contributing to the conservation of the very landscapes that attract people is one of those wicked problems that can frustrate those who are trying to make it all work. 

Randall McKay has been Banff’s Director of Planning and Development since 1997. Today, we discuss the history of the Town and some of the challenges it faces regarding growth management, affordability, environmental conservation, and tourism. It’s a fascinating case study in balancing global economic factors right down to a very local context – which happens to be about an hour and a half from where I live. Let’s dive in.