Tofino kicks off downtown improvement project

The district has kicked off a significant revitalization project in an effort to attract tourists and locals into its downtown core.

Tofino’s Main Street is getting a facelift.

The district has kicked off a significant revitalization project in an effort to attract tourists and locals into its downtown core.

The project is aimed at beautifying the area with enhanced landscaping and increasing its walkability with new boardwalks, sidewalks and benches.

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly the project will cost $471,257 and will be paid for with $309,74 from the Resort municipality Initiative fund, $153,616 from the Federal Gas Tax reserve and $7,900 from an ICBC Pro-Active Funding Grant.

“Main Street is the historical heart of Tofino, and an important reminder of Tofino’s origins as settlement only accessible by water,” Osborne said. “Tofino grew from the waterfront upwards, so Main Street was the first commercial street, and home to many homes, enterprises, and industrial activities from the turn of the 20th century through to today.”

She suggested the current landscape makes it hard for visitors and locals to appreciate the historic value of Tofino’s downtown.

“Although there are still vestiges of Main Street’s origins in various historic buildings, the businesses and activities of the working harbour, and in the subdivision and layout of lots, Main Street’s history is not as evident as it ought to be to the visitor or younger resident of Tofino,” she said.

“The hilly nature of the road and the somewhat haphazard pattern of development have resulted in poor pedestrian, parking and traffic patterns. Revitalizing Main Street and improving safety and access is a strong focus of the Downtown Vitalization Plan.”

She said the project is focused on creating “quick-wins” by enhancing the area’s walkways, redistributing parking and improving public areas.

“Unlike the Campbell Street upgrades, there are no water or storm sewer works to be completed, so there won’t be much in the way of asphalt removal, digging, and repaving,” she said.

Work began earlier this month and is expected to wrap up in May. Single-lane traffic will be in effect from 7:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. while the work is ongoing and Osborne encourages anyone wanting to stay up to date on the project’s progress to visit the district’s website at www.tofino.ca or its Facebook page.

Locals can also email the district at office@tofino.ca

“I think local residents and visitors are always excited to see investment into the vitalization of Tofino’s wonderful downtown; it’s a sign of community pride and confidence in our local economy and the wide variety of independent businesses,” she said.

“Improvements on Campbell Street have been very well received, and have provided stimulus to surrounding neighbourhoods to invest in their own properties, and I hope we will see the same in this iconic part of town. We’re especially fortunate that the District of Tofino is able to complete this work [with] grant funding, rather than having to go to property tax revenue.”

BC’s Tourism Minister Shirley Bond is excited to see Tofino upgrading its image and touted the community as one of BC’s top tourism destinations.

“Visitors from around the world come to the region to see its beautiful beaches and to enjoy its world class restaurants and resorts,” Bond said through a recent media release.

“The Province wants to ensure that BC’s tourism industry delivers on visitor’s expectations. With this in mind, we’re pleased to support the Tofino project. The enhancements will no doubt encourage people to spend some extra time exploring the area and to return to this amazing corner of BC.”

The provincial government invests roughly $10.5 million into expanding the tourism draw of BC’s 14 resort municipalities each year, according to the release.