This rendering shows what the Campbell Street and First Street intersection could look like after a $3 million upgrade is complete. (District of Tofino image)

This rendering shows what the Campbell Street and First Street intersection could look like after a $3 million upgrade is complete. (District of Tofino image)

District of Tofino plans $3M upgrade to Campbell Street

The third and final phase of the Campbell Street upgrades incorporates the two western-most blocks

Tofino is eyeing a $3 million project to wrap up the Campbell Street upgrades that began in 2013.

The third and final phase of the Campbell Street upgrades incorporates the two western-most blocks of Campbell and is projected to include wider sidewalks, extended bike lanes and a new roundabout at the road’s western dead-end.

In a Nov. 1 presentation to council, the district’s manager of public spaces, cultural and visitor initiatives April Froment explained that work on the third phase began in 2019 with public consultations expected to kick off in the spring of 2020, but was all put on hold by the coronavirus pandemic and “general uncertainty about the future.”

She said a B.C. Rural Dividend Grant paid for detailed design work for the full two blocks and made the proposed $3 million upgrade shelf-ready for future funding opportunities.

“As the main commercial corridor in downtown Tofino, Campbell Street has been prioritized for street upgrades in order to support economic development as well as to improve multi-modal transportation and to enhance the public realm,” she said.

She said the district hopes to cover over 50 per cent of the project’s cost with grant money, though she noted grant opportunities are still being pursued.

The rest of the cost is expected to come by way of 35 per cent from Resort Municipality Initiative funding, 9 per cent from a Campbell Street Reserve fund and the remaining 3 per cent coming from a capital and infrastructure levy and developer contributions.

Froment said the work is part of Tofino’s downtown vitalization plan, which aims to “establish a visual connection from Campbell Street to the western water views and to provide a start to the future waterfront walkway.”

“Tofino’s downtown vitalization is a key project that’s identified in Tofino’s resort development strategy that outlines the district’s spending plans and priorities for Resort Municipality Initiative fund investments,” she said. “The goal clearly being to to create a vibrant downtown that enables visitors to move around easily within the village core.”

She added the project would also keep the district in line with its multi-modal transportation strategy, completed in 2019, designed to ease access for pedestrians and cyclists while decreasing motor vehicle traffic downtown.

The proposed project would see sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the road consistent with the last two phases and would also include covered bike parking as well as electric car and e-bike charging stations.

She noted that stretch of Campbell Street currently has no bike lanes and only a “very poor condition” sidewalk on one side of the road with no sidewalk on the other.

She said a transit spot is also being proposed to accommodate the town’s seasonal summer shuttle as well as the BC Transit service expected to launch in the fall of 2022.

She added that district staff have discussed the project with area residents and business owners and received “good engagement.”

“The top themes that we heard were traffic and parking, not surprisingly, and tree retention,” she said.

She said some trees would need to be removed to create enough space for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles on the south side of the road, though she noted the district plans to plant 17 new trees as part of the project.

She suggested a cluster of trees on the southern side could potentially be retained, but that retention would mean sacrificing bike lanes, or building a narrower sidewalk than the one being proposed.

“All of these options eliminate any landscaping or public realm amenities such as benches or bike racks along this stretch , but they do endeavour to retain the rock bluff with the trees,” she said.

She added the construction work could damage the roots of the trees identified for retention, meaning they could potentially create hazards in a busy corner of downtown.

“It may result in the eventual removal of the trees despite efforts to save (them),” she said.

While a final decision is not imminent, the town’s council seemed unanimous in their preference to keep the cluster of trees as a tradeoff for a narrower sidewalk.

Coun. Cathy Thicke questioned the narrowness of the western-end block leading to the roundabout.

“I guess I see accidents about to happen,” Thicke said. “Is it realistic to think about that narrow road being a safe passage?”

Anderson wondered why no bike lanes were being proposed for that final block.

Froment responded that the sidewalks being proposed are wide and added that the level of traffic in that section is expected to be much less than the road’s other blocks as it leads to a dead-end.

“The road is designed to be a slower road, so more friendly for bikes and vehicles to be co-mingling and the sidewalks are very, very wide,” she said.

Coun. Tom Stere noted that while a large portion of the project would be paid for through grants and RMI funding, long term maintenance would need to be covered through taxation and asked staff to keep that in mind while building the project.

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