The District of Tofino plans to re-introduce parking meters in the downtown area, raising concerns of offshore residents who are already struggling to find space for their vehicles.
“Tofino’s summer vibrancy leads to increased parking pressures downtown, and pay parking is a proven way to increase turnover and parking availability as well as improving road user safety, while providing an important funding source to support community programs, services, and facilities,” according to the District of Tofino.
Currently, Tofino has a mix of unrestricted and pay parking areas. According to the district, there are approximately 800 public parking spaces in the downtown core.
“Approximately 110 of those spaces are restricted to offshore parking only,” the district stated in an email to Ha-Shilth-Sa.
The District of Tofino issues approximately 250 offshore permits per year. Offshore permits are free for residents of Opitsaht, Ahousaht, Hot Springs Cove, or any other Clayoquot Sound community outside of Tofino. Contractors and essential service workers of those communities also may be eligible for an offshore permit.
The district recognizes that Tofino lies within the Haahuulthii of Tla-o-qui-aht and states that they have engaged with the First Nation on their plan.
Ahousaht resident and former deputy chief councillor Melinda Swan points out that the First Nation’s members alone require 100 spaces. Sometimes offshore residents are forced to park in time restricted stalls, for which they are ticketed with a $50 fine.
In February 2007, Ha-Shilth-Sa reported that pay parking was coming to Tofino, noting that District of Tofino Administrator Leif Peterson said plans of meter installation were going smoothly until the Pay Parking Committee heard “extreme opposition” from the community.
At that time, the District of Tofino proposed that locals and offshore residents could purchase annual parking permits for $10. This year they say the local and offshore permits will be free to eligible residents.
The revenue collected from paid parking would be used to pay for tourist infrastructure and water system upgrades, the Ha-Shilth-Sa reported in 2007.
The district successfully implemented pay parking at local beaches in 2021. Local First Nations have access to free parking placards for their nation’s beaches.
The district states that eligible residents of Tofino, Ahousaht, Opitsaht, Esowista, Hesquiaht and Ty-Histanis can register online for free annual permits. Residents of Ucluelet and other Alberni Clayoquot Regional District communities will receive a 50-per cent discount on an annual pass.
Parking rules and restrictions are indicated by signs at the various locations. Drivers should follow all parking signage rules to avoid penalties and fines.
District staff are looking for input on the program. To learn about the project and share your ideas and feedback visit https://talktofino.ca/downtown-pay-parking
There will be a virtual town hall on Wednesday, April 26, from 4 to 6 p.m. to discuss the proposed downtown pay parking program. You may register for that here: Register for the Virtual Town Hall here(External link). During the session there will be an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback. You can also submit questions in advance by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Implementation of the Tofino Downtown Pay Parking program is expected at the end of May 2023.