Tofino to introduce downtown pay parking during peak tourism season

Tofino to introduce downtown pay parking during peak tourism season

Visitors to Tofino in the peak season will need to start budgeting for an additional cost after council voted unanimously in favour of a staff recommendation for paid parking downtown.

Pay parking will be in effect from May to October with the goal of encouraging parking turnover in the downtown area, according to a report from staff.

“Tofino’s summer vibrancy leads to increased parking pressures creating negative impacts for many users, residents, businesses, and visitors,” the staff report says.

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Dan Law, mayor of Tofino, says while pay parking has been approved, the details of how the program will look are still being sorted out.

“The whole point of this particular public consultation process is to get the public’s feedback on how this will affect them,” Law said in an interview with CHEK News. “Then to come back and hash it out and formulate a plan that works, that isn’t going to disenfranchise people from living their lives.”

The district is undergoing public consultation on the program. It is accepting feedback on its engagement website, and will hold a virtual town hall on April 12 from 4-6 p.m.

Some initiatives that are being considered are parking passes for downtown residents who don’t have adequate parking at their home, or parking passes for all Tofino residents.

“What about residents in Tofino who have to go downtown and park, are they expected to pay as well? And so that’s something that council certainly has considered,” Law said. “That was a big part of the success of the beach pay parking was that residents had a resident pass for the most part.”

Paid parking at Tofino beaches was implemented in 2021 to address the negative impacts of escalating parking pressures.

Now, staff are recommending that paid parking be extended to the approximately 400 parking spots in downtown Tofino.

“Areas that are currently designated as timed parking will become the pay parking spaces, areas that are currently reserved for offshore parking will be unchanged,” the staff report says. “The general principle behind the location of downtown parking is ‘curb’ = ‘pay parking’.”

District of Tofino staff say the roads in green are those where paid parking is proposed to be implemented (Map courtesy the District of Tofino)

Staff said year-round pay parking was also considered, but it wasn’t supportable due to the availability of parking spaces and lack of alternative transportation methods.

Law says when pay parking was implemented at Tofino beaches, it did result in having more parking available.

“There was no parking available on the beach often in the summertime, and residents really couldn’t find a spot to park and many people couldn’t find a spot to park to go to the beach,” Law said. “So that rolled out very smoothly, had very little effect on residents and visitors seem to see the value of of that program, and so that’s worked out really well.”

Law says the engagement will help staff determine the details of the pay parking program for downtown. The submission deadline for feedback is May 3, with staff presenting the results to council on May 9.

One potential benefit Law sees from this, is generating another form of revenue for the district that doesn’t rely on property taxes.

“Right now, we’re going for a an indoor recreation facility, and that’s going to that’s going to cost money to operate,” Law said.

“We’re really trying hard to find a way to find alternative revenue, and of course, council will have those discussions, and has noted that pay parking could be a great revenue source to give back to the community and provide some of those really important ameniities that the community has been asking for, for the last few decades.”

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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