The Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation announces a donation of $2.5 million to the Town of Banff, ensuring the completion of a much-needed pedestrian bridge connecting downtown Banff to the Recreation Grounds and the Cave & Basin District.
“The Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation supports active lifestyles and mountain recreation,” said Cathy Geisler, Executive Director for the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation. “We support the vision for a pedestrian and cycle friendly town. Getting this bridge built will expand the trail network and will help get people to more areas of the Park without increasing traffic. It will also create a beautiful viewpoint for residents and visitors.”
A connector between Banff’s Central Park and the Recreation Grounds supports the Town’s priority for sustainable transportation and reduced vehicle traffic within the townsite. The bridge will create a valuable pathway for pedestrians and cyclists travelling between downtown, the popular recreation area, and the Cave & Basin National Historic Site, which is the birthplace of Canada’s national parks system.
With more than 4 million visitors to Banff each year, the bridge will ease traffic flow across the main Bow River Bridge, provide a safe winter crossing for residents in the Cave Avenue area, and encourage visitors and residents to enjoy our town in a vehicle-free manner. The bridge will also provide a key connection to the Roam Public Transit system, which connects with all major destinations in Banff National Park.
With a total project cost of $5 million, the Town of Banff has committed $500,000 in capital funding, and is waiting for confirmation of $2 million in grant funding through the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), which is administered by the Province of Alberta. Without other funding, the project has a $2.5 million shortfall.
“This contribution from a private foundation, which has been an essential part of our community for decades, will be transformative for Banff, bringing to reality a vision for enhanced mobility, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and active lifestyles, for which Banff is already famous,” said Town of Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen. “We are overwhelmed by this generosity and commitment to our special mountain community. Thank you to the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation for making this vital link in Banff possible.”
Discussions around this pedestrian bridge have spanned over 30 years. In 2012, the town’s first pedestrian bridge – at Muskrat Street – was approved as a priority and opened in 2013. Pedestrian traffic over the Bow River (pedestrian and traffic bridges combined) has increased 53% from 571,159 to 872,542 crossings, from 2015 to 2018. The Town of Banff recorded 5,000 crossings per day, in peak season, on Muskrat Street Pedestrian Bridge, for a total of 900,000 crossings in 2018. The new pedestrian bridge at Central Park is anticipated to have between 5,000 and 8,000 crossings per day during summer, potentially eliminating over 3,000 vehicle trips in town.
Banff Town Council is scheduled to finalize the capital and operating budgets for 2020 between January 13 and 16. With this bridge project funding from the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation, Council could approve the project to go ahead, with detailed design work and the environmental approval process in 2020, and construction in 2021.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE WIM & NANCY PAUW FOUNDATION
• This $2,500,000 donation is the first capital donation the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation has approved.
• Between 2013 and 2019, the Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation has gifted $1,395,000 to grassroots community initiatives that meet one of three pillars: Active Lifestyles, Enhancing Education, and Community Building.
• For 2020, more than $1,000,000 has been approved for disbursement for grassroots initiatives in Banff and the Bow Valley, in addition to this capital donation