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Can you own a home in Banff?

can you own a home in banff alberta canada mountain town

Can you own a home in Banff?

I bet you can picture yourself living in Banff  – but can you actually own a home in Banff?

The town of Banff is a picturesque mountain town, located within Canada’s first National Park – Banff! If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit Banff, it has probably stuck in your mind as a truly unique place on earth. Millions of tourists flock to the town and Banff National Park to explore the sights and natural beauty of the area. Surrounded by majestic soaring peaks and dense conifer forest, Banff is the epitome of a mountain town.

At 5,305ft above sea level, Banff is the second highest elevation community in Canada (only behind Lake Louise).Just an hour and a half from Calgary, the town of Banff provides close access to three world-class ski hills, Lake Louise & Moraine Lake, the historic Cave & Basin, and of course is home to the enchanting Banff Springs Hotel. The life of the locals who call this place home is second to none, with scenic views  everywhere you look. Popular activities include hiking, biking, snowshoeing, nordic & downhill skiing, and fly fishing.

Banff national park historic office - own a home in banff

Who owns Banff?

Banff National Park was designated as Canada’s first national park in 1885, then known as “Rocky Mountain Park”. Much of the land was returned to the federal government of Canada by Canadian Pacific Rail as they set out to complete a rail pass through the Rockies.

In Canada, there are two main types of Land Title ownership: Fee Simple & Leasehold. Fee simple (or freehold) ownership allows you to own the land and buildings on it. Leasehold on the other hand, is where a lessee enters into an agreement with the fee simple owner for use of the property.

So who owns Banff? Answer: Banff National Park, and the town of Banff within, is federally or Crown owned land.

All but a very few historic pieces are leasehold property only. Usually each leasehold is on a 42 year term. Typically, residential leaseholds are renewed with no hassle. Annual residential lease fees are rolled into municipal taxes, and payable to Parks Canada.

sunset over mount rundle banff alberta

So Who can live in Banff?

Only Eligible Residents may live in Banff – note, live – not OWN (which I explore below). Here’s how Parks Canada defines Eligible Residents:

What is Eligible Residency?

Residential leases in Banff restrict occupancy to eligible residents as defined in national park regulations. The eligible residency provisions ensure that community residential lands are available exclusively for community use, rather than recreational or second home purposes.

Why have Eligible Residency?

To ensure that a broad supply of housing types are available for those who work and raise families in the community, all people living in national park communities must meet eligible residency requirements. This ensures that housing remains available for those whose primary objective is to live and work in the community.

Who is an Eligible Resident?

The National Parks Lease and License of Occupation Regulations defines an eligible resident is defined as:

  • (a) an individual whose primary employment is in the park,
  • (b) an individual who operates a business in the park and whose presence at the place of business is necessary for the day-to-day operation of the business,
  • (c) a retired individual who resides in the park and who, for five consecutive years immediately prior to retirement,
    (i) was employed primarily in that park, or
    (ii) operated a business in that park and whose presence at the place of business was necessary for the day-to-day operation of the business,
  • (d) a retired individual who resided in the park at the time of the individual’s retirement and who resided in that park on July 30, 1981,
  • (e) an individual who is a student in full-time attendance at an educational institution that is located within the park and registered under the Income Tax Act or applicable provincial legislation relating to education,
  • (f) an individual who is a lessee of public lands in the park and who
    (i) was the lessee of those public lands prior to May 19, 1911, or
    (ii) is a descendant, by blood or adoption, of an individual who was the lessee of those public lands prior to May 19, 1911, or
  • (g) the spouse or common-law partner or a dependant of an individual referred to in any of paragraphs (a) to (f).

skies over mount rundle

Who can own a home in Banff?

You can! You can buy property in the National Park without meeting the eligible residency conditions above. Only the tenant, or person actually residing in the property, must meet the eligibility requirements. This means you could own an investment, long-term monthly rental property in Banff. (Looking to own an Airbnb in Banff? Try Canmore instead – check out this blog post here). Note, operating a Home-based business or a bed & breakfast does not meet the eligibility requirements. Enforcement for eligible residency conditions is done by Parks Canada.

Ready to own a home in Banff?

If you’re ready to make your mountain-living dreams come true, get in touch with me today. I have lots of experience helping clients navigate the ins-and-outs of purchasing property within the National Park. Please feel free to call, text or email me any time if you have questions about living in Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore or the surrounding area – I’m always happy to help! Cheers.

Like this post? Check out some of my other articles to learn more:

Banff Real Estate For Sale

How to find the BEST Canmore Houses for Sale!