Sustainable people movement expert panel terms of reference

Banff National Park

Table of contents

A. Purpose of the panel

The panel is established as a key component in Parks Canada’s development of a unique management framework that integrates Parks Canada’s objectives for resource protection, visitor experience, sustainability and authenticity with the movement of people in Banff National Park and in the Bow Valley in particular. The scope of the framework will extend beyond the actual modes of transportation, and include how Parks Canada manages and coordinates access, use and infrastructure at and among key park destinations in, and adjacent to, the Bow Valley.

The purpose of the panel is to apply its interdisciplinary expertise to recommendations about how the vision in “Inspiring a More Sustainable World” (see Appendix A) could be implemented. Under the guidance of the chairperson, the panel will contribute expert knowledge, table ideas, identify challenges and considerations, explore options and co-develop recommendations for the President and Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada. These recommendations (expressed as key components of a new park-wide people-moving system) will then be subject to environmental review, and made available to Indigenous groups, partners, and the general public for feedback (Appendix B).

B. Principles for the panel's work

A people-moving framework for Banff National Park, will:

  • make efficient use of land and other natural resources, while ensuring the preservation of connectivity, vital habitat and other requirements for maintaining biodiversity,
  • promote the use of alternative and renewable energy while reducing waste, fossil fuel consumption, emissions and discharges of contaminants to surface and ground water,
  • offer diverse mobility options, giving people more choices as to how they meet their access needs including self-propelled or micro transportation as an alternative to cars,
  • think beyond transportation modes, and look at other demand management strategies,
  • be integrated into existing land use management and not result in cumulative effects that would have significant adverse effects on the quality of the visitor experience, visitor safety or park resources,
  • adaptable and scalable,
  • provide value for money and identify and recognize public subsidies (hidden or otherwise) and social, economic and environmental costs,
  • offer equity of access,
  • ensure options consider private sector alternatives,
  • consider research and development of innovative alternative technologies that improve access and help protect the environment,
  • be coordinated with private sector tourism objectives,
  • reflect visitor expectations and demographics,
  • be integrated with broader regional transportation networks.

C. Mandate and scope of work

The geographic focus for the work will be on Banff National Park and the Bow Valley through to Calgary. The Panel is being asked to bring its technical expertise to bear on a people-moving framework for the Banff Bow Valley, with potentially applicability in other contiguous mountain national parks. This includes: developing an outline of the people-moving framework, key indicators and outcomes to be monitored, and an action plan for populating the framework. Work of the panel is anticipated to also include: identifying data and research that may support short or long term goals, outlining a way forward to address data and research gaps in relation to the indicators; pinpointing and exploring options against the principles and park management objectives, and refining these options as required. In the context of the national park management objectives, its current state and patterns of visitation, the panel will be asked to consider:

  • likely long term changes in demand for travel,
  • current research and data on leisure transportation choices in protected areas,
  • all land-based interventions, including, roads, trails, parking, mass transit, personal mobility services, walking, cycling, and other self-propelled transport, new transportation developments, reservation systems, network optimization and demand management (including access restrictions and pricing for demand management purposes),
  • alternative combinations of these interventions and their broad timing and scale.

D. The panel

The President & CEO of Parks Canada will appoint individuals to the Panel who have knowledge or experience relevant to protected area management or expertise relevant to the challenges and opportunities facing Banff National Park including in the following areas of interest:

  • Intelligent transportation systems: including traveller information, advanced traffic technologies, smart parking, emerging multi-modal transportation options, MAAS (mobility as a service), transportation wireless communication, and micro mobility
  • Transportation planning; includes connecting modes of transportation with each other
  • Transit planning; including links to regional networks, funding mechanisms scheduling, systems
  • Accessibility
  • Green transit technology
  • Tourism, marketing and promotion
  • Visitor management
  • Ecosystem science
  • Recreation planning
  • Behavioral economics (Specializing in travel behavior and mode choice in leisure context)
  • Communications

The Panel will consist of no more than ten members, including one Chairperson, appointed by the President & CEO of Parks Canada. Panel Members will be chosen for their individual expertise and will not be asked or expected to represent the organization(s) from which they are affiliated. In the event that a Panel member resigns or is unable to continue to serve, the remaining members shall constitute the Panel unless the President & CEO of Parks Canada determines otherwise. In such circumstances the President & CEO may choose to replace the Panel member.

By way of letter from the Chairperson, the Panel may request clarification of its Terms of Reference from the President & CEO. The Panel shall continue with its review to the extent possible while waiting for a response in order to comply with the timelines of these Terms of Reference.

The Agency shall issue a notice to the public regarding any clarifications to the Panel’s Terms of Reference and shall make those clarifications available on its website.

Upon appointment of the Panel, the Parks Canada Agency will provide to the Panel the comments received during the comment period on these draft Terms of Reference. A final Terms of Reference will be provided to the Panel no later than mid-February.

The Panel Secretariat

The Panel Secretariat will provide administrative, technical and procedural support as requested by the Panel and shall be comprised of staff from Parks Canada, under the direction of the Executive Director Alberta through the Panel Project Manager. The Secretariat will provide support to the Panel and will be structured to allow the Panel to conduct its review in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The administration of the Secretariat will be the responsibility of the Executive Director Alberta. The Secretariat will liaise and facilitate the flow of information within the Agency as appropriate. Members of the Secretariat shall be guided in their work and professional conduct by the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service.

E. Responsibilities

Panel members are responsible for:

  • Preparing for and attending scheduled virtual meetings and possibly one on-site orientation meeting in Banff. If unable to attend members are responsible for notifying the chair in advance,
  • Contributing to an interim report at the end of 2021 and the final report to Parks Canada,
  • Participating in discussion and working toward the objectives of the panel by:
    • briefing other members of the panel on current research, trends and information in their field of expertise,
    • raising relevant ideas, issues, impacts, and information gaps,
    • working to integrate information from other experts into the development of options and recommendations for Parks Canada, and
    • reflecting Indigenous, public and stakeholder input into their recommendations.

The Chair is responsible for:

  • Preparing the schedule of work, including the meeting schedule, the schedule of updates with Parks Canada CEO, the list of external bodies the panel would like to consult to the Parks Canada CEO within 1 month of appointment,
  • soliciting meeting agenda input, confirming meeting agendas and objectives, and managing the process/discussion used to meet those objectives,
  • monitoring discussion, dynamics and progress toward the objectives throughout each meeting,
  • seeking process feedback from participants at the end of each meeting,
  • synthesizing and summarizing the discussion at the end of each meeting and confirming any action items,
  • representing the group in the media and other public venues,
  • facilitating the group’s arrival at consensus recommendations,
  • providing periodic updates to the President & CEO of Parks Canada on the progress of the panel, and
  • providing an interim report to the President & CEO of Parks Canada no later than December 31, 2021 and a final report no later than March 31, 2022.

The PC Secretariat / Project Manager is responsible for providing the resources for all necessary administrative, management, research and production support, including, but not limited to:

  • timely orientation for the panel member,
  • production and provisioning of all required background documentation,
  • meeting organization, logistics, and reporting/documentation,
  • ensuring various ideas/perspectives are documented and provided to the Chair and panel members in the record of proceedings,
  • sourcing additional information and expertise pertinent to the agenda,
  • editing, translation and production of both the draft and final reports,
  • preparation of all internal/public communication materials, as required, and
  • contracting professional services as required. supporting the chair as required.

F. Conduct of the review


The Panel, with the advice and support of the Secretariat, shall complete its review and provide an interim report with recommendations to the President & CEO no later than December 31, 2021 and a final report no later than March 31, 2022. The Panel shall determine its schedule of planning and deliberation meetings, as well as its schedule for in-person and online public consultations, with this timeline in mind.

Public access to information

The Agency shall make public the information received during the course of the review.

Public engagement

The Panel shall determine the consultation plan and the list of interveners with whom it wishes to meet directly, including Indigenous groups and a broad cross-section of interested groups, organizations and individuals during its review in order to gain an understanding of issues and opportunities related to its mandate.

The Panel shall also offer opportunities for online engagement and provide procedures for the receipt of written submissions. The results of any online engagement carried out and any written submissions received shall be made publicly available by Parks Canada.

Expert advice

In addition to information and advice provided through the consultaion process, the Panel may retain the services of other experts on certain subjects within its mandate. Any information provided to the Panel by experts will be made publicly available by Parks Canada.

G. Level of authority and accountability

The panel is an advisory body that discusses, deliberates and suggests possible courses of action to the President & CEO of Parks Canada.

All panelists are expected to participate in good faith, working in the public interest with consideration for the mandate and objectives of national parks, and declaring any real or perceived conflict of interest as per Treasury Board guidance on Apparent Conflict of interest and Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment. Members may be recused from discussions on those issues from which the real or perceived conflict arises.

H. Remuneration and support for panel members

Subject to a signed letter of agreement with each panel member, Parks Canada will provide an honorarium to Panel members for meetings and will incur the reasonable costs for travel, accommodation and incidentals to the Banff orientation meeting, at rates established by the Treasury Board of Canada.

I. Official languages

All deliverables and any other documents produced by the Panel for the purpose of communicating information to the public must be produced and made publicly available in both official languages. The Executive Summary and the final report will be submitted to the President & CEO in both official languages no later than March 31, 2022. Documents provided to the Panel by participating parties will be made publicly available in the language that they were received.

J. Confidentiality

All information gathered by the Panel in the course of its work is subject to the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Appendix A: Inspiring a more sustainable world

Imagine ....

... A people-moving system that is an example of how big picture thinking, comprehensive planning and ‘green’ transport can help secure an environmentally and economically sustainable future, and solidify Canada’s reputation as both a leader in environmental protection and a provider of heritage experiences.

... A system integrated into the experience, character and management objectives of Canada’s first and foremost national park, which is based on an innovative mix of existing and emerging sustainable transportation technologies and leading-edge protected area management approaches.

Imagine ...

  • If we think beyond the vehicles and parking lots, to the whole experience of being in and enjoying a national park; where the ways of getting to and moving about are as much a part of the national park experience and legacy, as its landscapes, natural and cultural resources.
  • If the system for accessing and moving about the park was created and managed by design, not by default. Rather than tools and approaches imported piecemeal from urban settings, the system would reflect the place, and be integrated into its objectives and active experiences. It would facilitate park enjoyment, and be informed and co-developed by Canada’s leaders in both protected area management, and in transportation planning and technologies.
  • If the system was built to be nimble and flexible, and did not rely on large infrastructure investment. Rather than relying solely on large-scale mass transit and built infrastructure, it would be comprised of multiple medium and small-scale components that can be assembled, added to, increased or decreased, as visitor preference, circumstances and technology change. It would recognize that ‘one size’ does not fit all when it comes to national park exploration, and would provide choices to suit individual travel preferences and capabilities. It would not be the death-knell to personal vehicle use, but rather it would support the use of zero-emission or self-propelled transport.
  • If the system showcased the best in comprehensive planning and sustainable transportation to the world. It would demonstrate that the future of transportation is now, and that existing and emerging technologies / ideas can be applied in new ways and new settings.
  • If the system supported research and demonstration as a “living lab” for: testing new ideas and smart mobility tools, collecting data, and informing research on energy efficient transportation technologies and people-moving systems in the context of a national tourism destination and protected area. It would include new and/or more efficient uses for existing transport infrastructure, and the development of creative, context appropriate ways to incent people to arrive at and move around the park sustainably.
  • If the people-moving system was built in partnership with educational institutions, neighbouring communities, private sector businesses, and stakeholders, so that it could be guided by specific objectives, performance indicators and standards of quality, that reflect a wide range of interests.

What we know ...

  • While most people support mass/green transit, a much smaller percentage of people actually use it. (American Public Transportation Association, 2014, Statistics Canada, 2011, 2016)
  • People are most inclined to use mass transit when commuting to work, and then only if it is cheaper and more convenient that any other available means. (American Public Transportation Association, 2014, Statistics Canada, 2011, 2016)
  • Mass transit (e.g. buses and trains) isn’t automatically cheaper or more environmentally friendly than microtransit or personal vehicles. Except in the world’s most densely populated cities, almost all public transit is heavily subsidized, more so than car travel (Lindquist, Wendt, and Holbrooks, 2009); and its environmental impacts depend very much on how the transport mode (train, car, bus, airplane) is fueled, how that fuel is sourced, the infrastructure needed to support it, and the passenger load (The Guardian, 2013; Chester and Horvath, 2009; Davis, Williams, and Boundy, 2016).
  • For recreational purposes where the freedom to explore and travel according to one’s own schedule is a priority, people strongly favour personal vehicles or self-propelled transport. This is particularly the case in national park settings, where the vast majority of visitors enter and move around the park in their private vehicles – even when other choices are available. (Iso-Ahola, 1983; Anable & Gatersleben, 2005; Middelkoop et al 2003, White, 2007; Hallo and Manning, 2009; Holly et al, 2010, White et al, 2011).
  • When people visit a National Park they rarely confine themselves to a single location. Instead they travel to multiple points (or nodes) in the park or region, using multiple ways to get around (car, bicycle, on foot, etc.). That is, the ‘destination’ is the whole park and sometimes places beyond it, not just a single point within the park. Distance travelled within a day may be dozens or even hundreds of kilometres. (Parks Canada, 2003; Mings and McHugh (1992); Nelson & Tumlin, 2000, Parks Canada, 2003).
  • Importing the fixed-schedule, fixed point transit systems found in most urban settings, is likely to have limitations in the national park setting given the desire of many park visitors for independence and “freedom” in their travel arrangements. Smaller, flexible and semi-flexible transit services have been shown to have utility outside cities (Ellis, E. & McCollom, B 2009; Mattson, J. 2016, Potts, J.F., Marshall, M.A., Crockett, E.C., & Washington, J. 2010)
  • Banff’s visitation is about 4.1 million people per year; with only 7.2 % (287,000) of those arriving by mass transit (i.e. private bus tours) and the rest arriving by private vehicle. Within the park there exists a mix of public (e.g. municipal transit) and private transportation (e.g. taxis, ski shuttles, etc.) – each is planned and operated independently. While transit continues to grow, it is not displacing private vehicle use.
  • Research has shown that building more infrastructure (i.e. road lanes and parking lots) is, at best, a temporary solution. Additional capacity, especially if it is free, encourages, more personal car use and is quickly used up (Christiansen, Engebretsen, Fearnley, and Hansen, 2017).

The challenge ...

Transportation and national parks are inextricably linked. In the early history of Canada’s national parks, transportation— by horse, stagecoach, railroad and later by automobile — facilitated the public access to parks that was needed to build widespread societal appreciation and support. Today, private motor vehicles are the primary way in which the vast majority of visitors arrive at, and experience and enjoy national parks.

As Canada’s first, most visited national park, Banff National Park it plays a special role in providing opportunities for Canadians to connect with their heritage and to learn about the importance of protecting Canada’s environment. Over the last 10 years, vehicle traffic in the park has increased 30% overall, with some specific locations such as the road leading to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, showing increases of up to 70%. Presently about 8.3 million vehicles travel into the park each year, with approximately half of these carrying park visitors and the other half travelling through to other destinations.

Consequently, at certain times, park infrastructure is stretched to capacity; resulting in: road congestion, parking shortages, air pollution (gHg emissions), noise disturbance, and impacts to wildlife and roadside vegetation. This negatively affects the ability of Canadians to access certain parts of the national park and detracts from their experience.

Research has shown that adding more buses and infrastructure (i.e. driving lanes and parking) is not the solution. Additional parking and road capacity, especially if it is free, encourages more personal car use (Christiansen, Engebretsen, Fearnley, and Hansen, 2017), adding to both traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, building new infrastructure requires use of undeveloped park lands, which means the long-term loss of the ecosystem services and wildlife habitat that would otherwise be provided by those lands.

Banff has reached a pivotal point in its development – where a fundamental change in thinking and approach is needed to sustain the park’s reputation, environment and visitor experience. At the same time, Banff’s profile and popularity open the door to engaging some of Canada’s best minds, most innovate companies, and most forward-thinking stakeholders in designing the park’s future.

The opportunity ...

"Banff National Park - inspiring a more sustainable world"

Banff National Park provides an internationally-known, exceptional, credible setting in which to demonstrate Canada’s commitment to sustainable tourism, transport and environmental protection. The development and implementation of a leading edge people-moving system in the park offers the opportunity to advance park management, sustainable transport systems and economic recovery at the same time.

This is more than buses and parking lots. This initiative would start with the best practices in protected area management, integrated with innovative transportation planning and tools. It would result in a top-to- bottom overhaul of the way people access and move around the park.

Banff’s profile, popularity and leadership in protected area management would inspire the engagement of others in the public and private sectors. Banff will become a “living lab” for: integrating smart mobility technologies into the whole visitor experience, for testing new ideas, collecting data, and informing research on energy efficient transportation technologies and systems. It will also be example of how big picture thinking, comprehensive planning and ‘green’ transport can help secure an environmentally and economically sustainable future, and solidify Canada’s reputation as both a leader in environmental protection and provider of heritage experiences.

The desired outcome ...

  • A cohesively planned and implemented people-moving strategy to include a suite of people moving tools, demonstration projects and research.

Appendix B: Pathway to the sustainable people-moving framework

Pathway to the sustainable people-moving framework — Text version
  • Expert panel terms of reference confirmed
  • Expert panel established
  • Expert panel recommendations
  • Indigenous, partner and public engagement
  • Environmental review
  • Final suite recommendations
  • Implementation and funding plan developed

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