Tofitians won’t have any more rights to street-parking than visitors this summer after a recommendation to create a residential parking pass recently failed to gain traction around Tofino’s council table.
Tofino has strategically scattered two-four hour parking zones throughout its downtown core but that’s vexed some local residents who do not have room on their property to park and rely on street-parking to store their vehicles.
During March 28’s regular council meeting, Tofino’s Manager of Community Sustainability Aaron Rodgers suggested creating a street-parking pass for locals that would only be valid on streets adjacent to the property owners house. He said a specific amount of passes would be given out and that amount would decrease each year eventually reaching zero.
“We’d make that very clear with people that this is not a forever type of process. We’re giving you some time. This is an opportunity for you to park there as you reorientate the space on your lot to actually accommodate parking,” he said.
Rodger’s pitch fell flat as council voiced objections to the idea and declined to endorse it.
Coun. Al Anderson said some locals are setting up their own parking zones with unofficial ‘No Parking’ signs and suggested passes would increase a false sense of ownership.
“If we give a parking passes to residents, they’re going to feel like they own certain areas of parking,” he said. “I’m willing to try out this pass thing, but I’m worried it will create this impression that, ‘That spot in front of my house is mine.’ And, I don’t think that’s what the parking pass is meant to do.”
McMaster said local passes would open the door for vacation rental and b and b operators to park their cars on the street to accommodate more visitor parking on their property.
“I think we’re just opening a can of worms there and compounding a problem that we have,” he said.
Coun. Greg Blanchette agreed.
“My personal ethos regarding parking and everything really is that if you’re lucky enough to own property in Tofino, your stuff should be stored on your property and not on public property,” he said.
“In particular, in the height of summer season where there’s a lot of demand for that public property.”
Blanchette added though that some locals likely need time to sort out how to park on their property and said he liked that the passes would eventually end.
“I definitely think that the ultimate goal here, and sooner rather than later, should be, ‘Your car gets parked on your property when it’s not in use.’”
Mayor Josie Osborne said she wasn’t “feeling a lot of love around the table for the idea,” and asked how many downtown residential properties are being affected.
“It seems like there are, probably, a couple of true hardship cases where the property was built and designed in a way before tourism ever became a thing in Tofino and they really don’t have access, or the ability, to put more parking on their lots,” she asked.
Rodgers responded the amount of true hardship cases was likely “less than a handful,” and Osborne suggested working with those property owners individually rather than creating a blanket pass.
Anderson liked that idea but said hardship would need to be proven.
“Otherwise people will just come and get one because they want to park on the street, not because they have to,” he said “I don’t know if we have to develop a whole bunch of criteria for that.”
“If you have several home based businesses or one home based businesses and you’ve chosen to do that, but now your three cars that you and your family own can’t park on the street…I don’t know that that demonstrates true hardship,” she said.
Rodgers agreed to work with specifically affected locals rather than pursue a local parking pass, but he suggested it might be tough for staff to make judgement calls on hardship cases.
Blanchette also raised concern about the potential for parking-limit signs taking over Tofino’s streetscape and suggested paint options be explored as an alternative to “add a bit of colour to the district” while making time-limits clear.
“That would be nice little public art in line with our fancy crosswalks et cetera.”