Small improvements could have major impact
The Icefields Parkway is supposed to be one of the most scenic drives in the world, but as it becomes busier and busier it’s becoming more difficult to enjoy.
As a tour guide/bus driver I regularly drive up and down the highway and have noticed a number of things that could be improved.
The most immediate thing that needs attention are the washrooms, especially in the winter months. Many times they are dirty and lack basic hygiene.
I have also seen a lot of garbage along the road and would like to see Parks Canada install no littering signs along the way, similar to the signs that remind drivers not to feed the animals.
Parking is also a major issue. During the winter months parking along the shoulder should not be allowed. There are many places where backcountry skiers can park and pull over without being a hindrance to traffic.
I’d also like Parks to fix the pay phones along the highway and better mark them so people know where they are in case of an emergency. Some people have suggested it would be easier to install cell phone towers, but I don’t think we need any more distractions on the highway.
Improving the police presence is also greatly required during the height of the tourist season. More than just giving out speeding tickets, my suggestion would be to utilize the warden station at Saskatchewan Crossing with officers stationed there on a daily basis.
This would allow the police to cruise north and south on the Parkway increasing their presence and improve their response time.
Driving from Lake Louise to Jasper I have also noticed most of the scenic pull outs are on the west side of the Parkway. When pulling out of these areas going north it can be very challenging and in some cases dangerous because it is difficult to merge into traffic going 90 km/h. Parks Canada should make more merging lanes so vehicles can easily integrate into the flow of traffic.
Bus parking is also a concern at Peyto Lake and the upper parking lot. Better signage and a bus lane would help. It’s a similar situation at Num Ti Jaw, however the area that needs the most attention is the south parking lot at the Columbia Icefield. This parking lot needs a clearly marked bus lane, better signage and a parking attendant from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week during the summer months.
I fully understand that all of these suggestions cost time and money, but with all the infrastructure money being spent in the park I think these are a few small changes that would have a major impact.
Hans Dieter Regett