As of 2023, private vehicles are no longer permitted at Moraine Lake in Alberta’s Banff National Park, in an attempt on Parks Canada’s part to handle the overcrowded tourism.
Banff has seen tourism increase in the last decade, especially at Lake Louise, prompting concern among locals and environmentalists about the national park’s conservation efforts.
Harm to the national park may not be caused by the tourists themselves, one expert says, so much as how they get there.
“We have a car problem, not a people problem in our parks,” Clara-Jane Blye, an instructor of recreation management at Dalhousie University, told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
Blye says the overwhelming number of vehicles being driven to Moraine Lake is making the site more crowded without contributing to conservation efforts at the national park.
Parks Canada says 900 personal vehicles are able to park at Moraine Lake each year, but the demand is so high 5,000 vehicles are still turned away annually. While parking is still allowed in designated areas such as the Lake Louise Lakeshore, tourists no longer able to park on Moraine Lake Road will have to take the Parks Canada shuttle bus or use local transit. The only personal vehicles permitted on the road are those with a disability tag.
Blye says, by having tourists rely on the shuttle, it will limit the amount of vehicles while still bringing in people to enjoy the park and not feel so overcrowded when they’re there.
“We need to balance ecological integrity. Parks have a dual mandate of welcoming visitors and welcoming Canadians while also protecting the natural environment that these parks are there to preserve,” she said.
Additionally, Blye says tourists should consider visiting other national parks across the country.
“We are so fortunate in Canada to have amazing parks and protected areas. We’ve got mountains and lakes all over so it doesn’t have to be Banff,” she said.