Park paving project wraps up without bike path

The Pacific Rim National Park recently completed a roughly $10.7 million paving project that has made the West Coast easier to explore by car but offered little for bicyclists and pedestrians.

When the Park announced in February that its roughly 22 km stretch of highway between Tofino and Ucluelet would be repaved, West Coast community leaders expressed frustration that a bike path was not included in the work.

Though this specific paving project is now complete, Ucluelet Mayor Dianne St. Jacques assured the community would continue pushing for a path.

“We did request a bike path and we were told it wasn’t in the budget at this time,” St. Jacques said during the public question period of a recent regular council meeting. 

“It’s something we’ll continue to lobby for certainly; but we have no knowledge at this point in time, unfortunately, that that project is going to happen in the immediate future.”

In an email to the Westerly News, Park spokesperson Laura Judson acknowledged the West Coast’s desire for a bike path and said such a path’s potential would continue to be explored. 

“Parks Canada is aware of the community interest in a bike path, and we are in the early stages of examining the feasibility of a future bike path,” she said.

“We look forward to exploring this idea further with the communities of Tofino, Ucluelet and First Nations.”

With the paving project wrapped up, commuters should now be able to enjoy delay-free driving; though summer’s RVs and “bear jams,” created by drivers who forget to pull over before viewing wildlife, will undoubtedly disrupt smooth sailings. 

“The project was completed ahead of schedule and we are very pleased with the work. The renewed highway is a pleasure to use and will be a benefit to the region as it improves the experience for visitors and community members,” Judson said.

“We sincerely appreciate the patience of drivers during this time and hope they enjoy the smooth new 22 km stretch of highway.”

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca