Town of Canmore

Safe Park Pilot Program

Applications for Safe Park are now being accepted 

The Safe Park pilot program will provide a safe place for individuals to rest overnight. The program will run from June 15 to September 15, 2021.

What is Safe Park?

Safe Park is a seasonal program that is designed to support individuals who are employed in our community and who reside in their vehicles.

Eligible program participants will be provided with designated parking space and will be required to adhere to a collection of program responsibilities to remain in the program. For example, participants will be responsible for keeping their parking stall clean and free of animal attractants.

There is a $10 per night fee to join the program, which must be pre-paid in two monthly installments. Each Safe Park site will have a bear-safe garbage bin and a maintained porta-potty in close proximity, and each lot will be monitored by a contracted security company.

Why is a Safe Park program important?

There are few seasonal housing options in Canmore. The Safe Park program offers an affordable alternative to those who work in our community as a way to help sustain a seasonal workforce.

The 2021 proposed Safe Park pilot is based on research, surveys and community discussions completed by the 2019 Seasonal Outreach Worker.

How do I apply for the program?

Program registration opens on May 1, 2021, and the program can accommodate up to 20 participants. There is a $20 program deposit fee.

To apply for Safe Park, please click here

Only eligible applicants will be admitted into the program. To be consider eligible, individuals will need to demonstrate:

  • Employment in the Bow Valley (must work an average of 20 hours per week)
    • Demonstrated by a letter from employer or recent pay stub
    • Participants who lose employment while in the program will be assessed on a case-by-case basis
  • A valid driver’s license, valid vehicle registration, and valid vehicle insurance
  • Ownership of an operational vehicle that fits within a standard parking stall
  • An clear understanding of the pdf participant responsibility agreement (183 KB)

If you would like more information about this program, or if you would like to register, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Background

In the summer of 2018, the Town of Canmore noticed that the number of individuals who live or camp in their vehicles increased significantly. Most apparent were the overnight parked vehicles behind Save-On-Foods and beside Elevation Place.  The people who reside on this land do so for a variety of reasons, many of them complex.  

A seasonal outreach worker was hired in the spring of 2019 to work with individuals camping in the area, to provide social supports, and to gather information on needs and demographics. Council heard the results of the data collected through the summer over two council meetings on Sept. 17 and Oct. 1 and approved the implementation of an overnight parking program pilot on Feb. 4, 2020.  The full reports can be found here. 

Due to the Pandemic the 2020 Safe Park program pilot was cancelled. The 2021 Safe Park Pilot has been modified to reflect pandemic impacts and to adhere to COVID-19 provincial restrictions.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone come and camp in their vehicle or RV in Canmore?
No. Camping outside of campgrounds between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. is prohibited under municipal bylaws. 
What happens to vehicles camping on private lots?
Private property owners need to request the owners of vehicles to leave their property as this is trespassing. If the owners of the vehicles camping on private property don’t leave, the property owner needs to contact the RCMP and request their assistance. Typically a warning will be issued first, and if there is no compliance, further steps may include the issuance of a $287 fine.

Where else can these campers go?
Wapiti Campground is located on the west end of Canmore along Bow Valley Trail and sites are available from May 1 to October 14 on a first-come, first-served basis. Wapiti campground is operated by a contractor on land leased by the Town of Canmore from the Province of Alberta, and the province may choose to reallocate the land. It is anticipated that the province will extend the lease for the campsite to the end of 2021; however, this extension cannot be confirmed yet.

Spring Creek RV Campground is a privately owned RV Park within the Town of Canmore, centrally located east of downtown. Long-term rentals are available. In summer, long-term campers must pay upfront for their entire stay. Some local businesses will rent a site for seasonal workers. Limited winter sites are available.

Exshaw Community Association Campsite is a volunteer-run, community campground within the municipality of Exshaw. The campground is operated as a first come-first served, campground.
There are also numerous provincial campgrounds nearby, but most can only be booked 90 days in advance and for no longer than 14 days. 
Why are there so many vehicles camping illegally? 
In the summer of 2018, the number of individuals who live or camp in their vehicles behind Save-On-Foods and Elevation Place increased significantly.  Although the bylaw prohibits RV parking between midnight and 8 a.m. on roads or in parking lots, we recognize affordability and availability of housing in Canmore is an issue. In this one location, the Town of Canmore has used discretion in the enforcement of our parking restrictions. To address the real and perceived concerns for the safety of individuals living in their vehicles (both short-term and long-term) and for the larger Canmore community, regular patrols of the area are conducted, and a porta-potty was installed in 2019.
Why not just pay for a campsite for individuals who are in need?
People are complex and their needs diverse. Although a campsite may be an appropriate solution for some, it is not an appropriate solution for all. In the past, the municipality did support seasonal workers with a campsite at Wapiti Campground, but unfortunately, the right resources were not put in place and the site was unsuccessful. 
Is there an opportunity for public feedback?
The 2021 Safe Park program is a pilot program. Once the pilot is completed, program information, community feedback, and participant outcomes will be evaluated. Council will not approve a longer-term project unless administration meets all program expectations.
Does Safe Park support individuals who are experiencing homelessness?

The Safe Park program supports individuals who are employed in the Bow Valley and living in their vehicle.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with homelessness, please contact the Housing Evaluator at 403-996-0204 or visit the Community Common Area, located at the Canmore Civic Centre, weekdays from 1:30 to 4:30pm.

Where are the Safe Park locations?

Program sites locations have not yet been determined. More information about the sites will be available the week of May 3.

Based on current site selection criteria, the Elk Run lot will not be recommended as a potential program site for the Safe Park program.

The Town of Canmore is located within Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta. In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, we honour and acknowledge the Canmore area, known as “Chuwapchipchiyan Kudi Bi” (translated in Stoney Nakoda as “shooting at the willows”) and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Îyârhe Nakoda (Stoney Nakoda) – comprised of the Bearspaw First Nation, Chiniki First Nation, and Wesley First Nation – as well as the Tsuut’ina First Nation and the Blackfoot Confederacy comprised of the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3, within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. We acknowledge all Nations who live, work, and play and help us steward this land and honour and celebrate this territory. We commit to working to live in right relations and to advance Truth and Reconciliation.

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