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ACRD says to be patient as they piece together funds for multi-use pathway

Cyclists still need to pop out on the side of road and navigate a 1.2km stretch of highway
The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s 25-kilometre ʔapsčiik t̓ašii pathway abruptly ends at the Park Reserve’s southern border, leaving users on their way to or from Ucluelet in the lurch. (Westerly file photo)

Parks Canada may have officially opened the new ʔapsčiik t̓ašii (pronounced ups-cheek ta-shee) pathway last month, but a small section between the Tofino-Ucluelet Junction and the southern end of the Park boundary has yet to be built, making West Coasters cringe with safety concerns.

Currently, cyclists are required to pop out on the side of road and navigate the 1.2km stretch of highway to access the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s multi-use pathway. The “missing link” falls within Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) jurisdiction.

Jenny Brunn, ACRD’s manager of community services, said to be patient.

“I can see how it’s frustrating from a community perspective. We are piecing together funding without raising taxes,” said Brunn.

It will cost the ACRD roughly $1.5 million to build the final stretch of pathway between Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. To date, they have secured $500,000 in funding via the Gas Tax - Community Works Fund, $50,000 from a Regional Parks Capital Reserve, and on July 7, $200,000 in funding support was announced from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital & Innovation Program.

“This project will appeal to the growing destination cycling market, and expand business investment and attraction related to cycling tourism,” said Aaron Stone, ICET Board Chair, in a press release. “It also enhances the region’s cultural and tourism education market.”

To fill the remaining funding gap, two grant applications are in process: $500,000 from the Provincial BC Active Infrastructure Transportation Fund and $300,000 from the Federal Active Transportation Fund with Infrastructure Canada.

“We are very hopeful we will get the (Active Infrastructure) grant funding,” said Brunn, noting they will likely hear back in the fall. “When it’s all done, it will be a wonderful example of many jurisdictions working together.”

Kel Roberts, director for Long Beach (Electoral Area C), said in a press release that the 40-km pathway will expand year-round recreational offerings.

“Our many communities will benefit for years to come from the completion of this incredible trail,” said Roberts.

Brunn confirmed that the ACRD has a “shovel ready” project.

“We have the design done and could start right away,” she said.

Last year, the ACRD’s grant application with the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program was denied. Tofino, on the other hand, secured $3.9 million in project funding with support from the provincial and federal governments, Island Coastal Economic Trust and Resort Municipality Initiative funding. The District of Tofino unveiled their 2.8km section of pathway spanning from the Cox Bay Visitor Centre to the southern end of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve boundary in early Feb. 2021.

- With a file from Andrew Bailey

RELATED: First Nations say landmark Pacific Rim national park path ‘going in the right direction’

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