Tofino talks parking with surf schools

A handful of municipal councillors recently sat down with a handful of local surf schools to shake out some parking strategies for Tofino’s Chesterman Beach.

Coun. Duncan McMaster, who attended the meeting along with councillors Dorothy Baert and Al Anderson, said seven Tofino-based surf schools participated and the door was left open for further communication.

“No magic solutions, but I think it was a great meeting. I think the schools appreciated the invite and were happy to be involved,” McMaster said adding both sides agreed to meet again in September.

He said the schools raised several recommendations, including pay-parking.

 â€œSurprisingly the issue of pay-parking was raised,” he said.

“The schools themselves would be prepared to contribute for designated spots and they also thought that pay-parking was probably an ultimate solution to control parking down at the beach.”

The schools suggested improving access to MacKenzie Beach could take some of the pressure off Chesterman and also asked the district to remove planter-pots currently clogging up Osprey Lane, according to McMaster.

He said the planters “restrict and complicate parking” and questioned why they have yet to be removed from the district-owned land.

“This issue has been brought up since 2011 and still nothing has been done, so the request still stands that those planters be removed; it is our road,” he said.

He said both sides agreed that better signage is needed to ensure drivers know where they can and can’t park, and better enforcement is needed to make sure this signage is obeyed.

The surf schools highlighted parked-buses as a concern and suggested buses should drop people off at the beach and then park elsewhere, like the nearby Cox Bay Visitor Centre, according to McMaster. 

He said parking lot expansions were discussed and suggested Chesterman’s North and South lots could be organized better to accommodate more vehicles.

“There was general agreement between ourselves and the surf schools that, no matter how much parking we put in at Chesterman, they’ll never be enough if the weather’s good and surf’s up,” McMaster said.

 â€œThe schools themselves have tried to alleviate the problem by staggering the times of their lessons, however some of them admitted to parking all day in fear of if they actually moved their vehicle they wouldn’t get a parking spot again.”

Coun. Dorothy Baert said the area’s vacation rentals also contribute to Chesterman’s parking problems, especially when wedding-parties travel to town.  

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca