Cars parked in front of the Crow’s Nest on April 21, 2022. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Cars parked in front of the Crow’s Nest on April 21, 2022. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Controversial Ucluelet Village Green project forges on

Parking in front of Crow’s Nest gets nixed due to safety concerns

“Mayor and council will have the devious legacy that they destroyed historic downtown Ucluelet,” said Crow’s Nest owner Jan Draeseke on a rainy April 21 morning outside her shop.

Days before, during the April 19 council meeting, district staff informed council that deferring the loss of parking in front of the Crow’s Nest was not an option the design team would be able to support due to safety considerations.

In light of that information, council went on to vote in favour of a design option the district’s planning department called a “modest compromise” that converts parallel parking on the east side of Main Street to angled parking.

Draeseke choked back tears in her final plea to council.

“It’s going to have a significant impact on many businesses as well as mine. But on a positive note, thank you for letting me keep my driveway. It gives me some options,” she said.

Ucluelet resident Pat Sieber expressed her overall disappointment.

“I haven’t heard you address the other parking. You seem to be only concentrating around the Crow’s Nest. All the other parking across from the Aquarium will disappear and those alone are about nine or eight spots,” she said, adding that Ucluelet urgently needs a comprehensive parking plan for the entire town.

Ucluelet Chief Administrative Officer Duane Lawrence said planning for the $1.2 million Village Green project started years ago, and that if the district doesn’t spend the $700,000 Tourism Dependent Community Fund grant funding before March 31, 2023, they will lose the money.

“There is no guarantee that there will be another grant,” he told the Westerly News at Friday’s Open House for the Peninsula Road Safety and Revitalization Project. “Once we have received authorization for a grant and then you say to the government, ‘no we change our mind’, getting back into the queue for that grant, very challenging.”

Lawrence pointed out that Main Street, including the parking in front of the Crow’s Nest, is not district land, it is the Ministry of Transport.

“Whatever we do on there must be approved and endorsed by the Ministry of Transportation. They will not approve something that is unsafe,” he said.

Jan Draeseke also owns the piece of raw land that neighbours the Crow’s Nest.

“If the Crow’s Nest is interested in putting an application together or looking at parking opportunities on her joint properties, the district is always there to help out as much as we can to solve parking issues or any other issues. This is part of our job and responsibility,” said Lawrence.

The Village Green project design is at 95 per cent completion. District staff say they are shifting their focus to preparing bid documents so that the project can be issued for tender in the coming weeks.

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