Banff Train Station Draft Area Redevelopment Plan

Banff Train Station 1914

On February 11, 2019, council endorsed a Terms of Reference for the Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan that established the boundary of planning area and a summary of what council expected to be addressed in the ARP. It also allowed the applicant, Norquay Mystic Ridge Ltd., to commence work on plan. The intent is to provide a framework and supporting policies that will guide future public and private investment in the short term (within 5 years), medium term (5-10 years), and longer term (+10 years), and to assist decision makers during the review of land use bylaw amendments and development permit applications. 

 The site is 17.4 ha of which approximately 13 ha has leased to Norquay Mystic Ridge Ltd. within the ARP planning area. It encompasses lands which are located on both the south and north side of the railway right-of-way. The majority of the planning area falls within the CR (Railway Lands) Land Use District. Portions of the site are also located within the PS (Public Service) along the south side of Railway Avenue, low density residential lands immediately adjacent to the south of the CR District, and a very small amount of PP Public Parkland the east of Elk Street. 

Land Use Area

 On June 14, 2021 an overview of the scope of the Draft Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) was presented to the Governance and Finance Committee of Council. A 2021 council Service Review priority related to Long Range/Strategic Planning/Policy Analysis and Development was to: 

  • Return to the Governance and Finance committee with a briefing outlining the scope of the Railway lands Area Redevelopment Plan prior to First Reading

Draft Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan (PDF)

Area Redevelopment Plan Purpose

The purpose of the Banff Railway Lands Area Redevelopment Plan is to create a vibrant, human-scaled, and sustainable multimodal transportation hub that respects and enhances the historical, physical, and social context of the site. The overarching vision is to reinvigorate the railway lands as an arrival destination centre. 

 The ARP also offers the opportunity to return the historic Banff train station and its grounds as a landmark and destination to its former prominence with several initiatives including the rehabilitation and restoration of the historic railway station building, and revitalization of historic public spaces through land uses that are better suited to today’s travelling public. It also builds on its historic character and enhances potential for the interpretation of the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its significance in the evolution of railway tourism in Canada.

The draft ARP will be based on the approved Terms of Reference and is proposed to be divided into 10 sections as follows:

Section 1: Land Use describes the land use, the historic context of development in the Railway Lands, an overview of the ARP process and existing policy framework, and the overall vision of the plan. It summarizes the plan’s guiding principles, objectives, coordination with Town policies and technical studies that informed the ARP. 

Section 2: Site Framework summarizes the site framework, its surrounding land uses, plan attributes, principles, community, and environmental priorities in alignment with the goals and objectives of the Town of Banff plans and policies.

Section 3: Land Use Concept focuses on the policies that support implementation of a cohesive design concept for the system of streets, parks, and other public spaces that together provide the means for mobility, recreation, and social gathering within the plan area. 

Section 4: Urban Design contains design policies and guidelines for individual precincts, and includes direction on building massing, architectural treatments, site design, lighting, parking, signage, and respect for the pedestrian environment. 

Section 5: Mobility and Connectivity describes the overall transportation vision for the plan area to create a compact, walkable and bikeable destination with mixed land uses and convenient transit options that foster low impact movement by foot, bicycle, and other active modes of transportation. A key aspect of the vision for the railway lands is to incorporate an integrated transit hub on the site to service the public and provide seamless transfers between different modes of travel for residents, and visitors. A detailed Transportation Impact Assessment was also prepared to evaluate vehicular movements, active transportation movements and parking demands for the site, and builds on the Town of Banff’s Transportation Master Plan (2012), the Banff Long Term Transportation Study (2016) as well as the Calgary-Bow-Valley-Mass-Transit-Feasibility-Study (2018). 

Section 6: Infrastructure contains policies and mechanisms by which infrastructure and services for new development will be provided, how the levels of service will be established and define the limitations and restrictions on the infrastructure services 

Section 7: Environmentally Significant and Sensitive Areas provides policy direction for areas of the site that have environmental attributes worthy of retention or special care. The aim is to preserve and enhance ecological integrity consistent with policy direction in the Banff Community Plan and Environmental Master Plan. 

Section 8: Heritage outlines the policies and guidelines to promote the preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction of heritage buildings and landscape features within the site. This also includes acknowledging and celebrating First Nations and indigenous connections in conjunction with the natural and human history of the plan area. 

 Section 9: Arts, Culture and Recreation contains policies that support creative, artistic, and interpretive initiatives with a focus on recognizing the site's railway heritage where feasible.

Section 10: Implementation Approval of this plan is the first step in implementation of the ARP. This chapter provides a chronological guide to the actions, entities, and timelines that must be initiated and coordinated to support achievement of desired planning outcomes over the short, medium, and long term as they relate to this ARP. 

Railway Lands ARP

Community Engagement

To inform the ARP Liricon Capital/Norquay Mystic Ridge Ltd. initiated the first phase of its community engagement plan following the adoption of the Terms of Reference by Council in 2019. Through in-person and digital engagement, community members were invited to have conversations about the project, ask questions and were encouraged to provide feedback on the key topics that will be considered as part of the ARP.

An online survey was used to complement the in-person public engagement. The survey was shared through social media and with organizations in Banff to pass along to employees and members, including Caribou Properties, Banff Centre, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism, Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association, and others.

During four information booth sessions 131 comments and questions about the project were received. Conversations were generally positive, demonstrating support of the vision for the plan. Comments and questions provided specific insights on how the ARP can help relieve congestion within the Banff townsite, improve the visitor experience and lead to environmental or wildlife benefits if aspects of the plan are implemented. Ideas and considerations about how to achieve the best outcomes were also put forward. 

Norquay Mystic Ridge Ltd. and the Town of Banff will continue to work together to coordinate community engagement, a public open house, and consultation during the preparation and drafting of the plan. Once a draft of the proposed amending bylaw and related area redevelopment plan is finalized, it will also be posted on along with an appropriate feedback mechanism in conjunction with the public hearing process. 

Further information can also be found at