Boats and boat trailers being stored within the Wickaninnish Community School’s field parking lot off Fourth Street are making it difficult for field users to find parking and could be removed once the trees downed in the area during December’s storm have been cleared. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Boat trailers clogging Tofino field’s parking lot

“As of this morning, there are probably 14 trailers parked in that location.”

Tofino residents wanting to get some recreation time in at the community’s field might be finding more exercise getting to it than on it because the parking lot has become a popular long-term storage area for boat trailers.

“I believe most of these trailers and boats belong to locals that do not wish to store their trailers and boats on their own property or won’t pay for long term storage,” Tofino resident and kids’ soccer coach John Forde wrote in a letter Tofino’s municipal council reviewed on Jan. 8.

“This has created a serious problem for users of the school field. During weekday periods parents and coaches are not able to find parking to drop off, pick up, or participate in practices and for Soccer Saturdays, when league games and practices are scheduled, and kids and parents from other communities come to participate in team games and practices there is nowhere for them to park.”

He wrote that the problem “needs immediate attention,” and suggested setting up a pay-parking system where passes would be purchased and time limits enforced with all fees collected going towards school programming.

READ MORE: Pay parking comes back to Tofino

After reviewing the letter, council looked to the head of Tofino’s bylaw department Brent Baker for his thoughts.

“As of this morning, there are probably 14 trailers parked in that location,” Baker responded, adding that about 10 of those 14 trailers did not have licence plates or proof of insurance. “We get trailers there. We get vehicles abandoned there. Fourth Street is a bit of an issue.”

He added though that the property belongs to the school and the district cannot step in without a complaint from the landowner.

“We need direction from the school if it’s a concern for them. It’s kind of a challenging one to deal with because it’s not just district property where we can go and take them all away without having some direction from the school,” he said.

READ MORE: Tofino looks to strengthen bylaw enforcement

He said that the district has made space at its impound lot and is prepared to tow the trailers away, if he receives direction from SD70, though downed trees from December’s storm would need to be cleared first.

“During the wind storm, the bulk of those trees along the school came down on top of trailers and power lines…The [trees] have been cleared off the street, but they’re still very much barricading that whole section,” he said. “But, once the trees are removed, they can all be impounded the same day if the school wishes them gone.”

READ MORE: Hydro hopes to have power restored in Tofino by Sunday

He added SD70 and Tofino’s Harbour Authority have discussed the idea of launching a boat trailer parking pass program where passes would be sold with funds going to the school and said those conversations are ongoing.

Coun. Dorothy Baert urged district staff to make the issue a priority.

“I just don’t want to be talking about it in a year. So, I really would like some movement and prodding, perhaps, of the Harbour Authority and the school to really try and address this,” she said. “If we could have a solution before summer, that would be ideal.”

Mayor Josie Osborne noted the area has been promoted for use by boat trailers in the past to avoid congestion in the downtown area.

READ MORE: Tofino considers prohibiting RV’s from street-parking

Baker said he had spoken to some residents in the area who would prefer that the trailers stay.

“Some of them have reported they’re happy that the boat trailers are there because it means RV’ers aren’t there and, therefore, people are not using the ball field as a restroom; so, a couple have asked me not to do anything about the trailers that are there,” he said. “It’s always a balancing act.”

READ MORE: RVs bring congestion and angst to Tofino

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