From left, Tofino mayor Josie Osborne, Ucluelet councillor Lara Kemps, ACRD manager of operations Jenny Brunn and BC Transit planner Lindsay Taylor smile together during an April 4 open house event at the Ucluelet Community Centre. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Potential BC Transit service sees positive response in Tofino and Ucluelet

“We got a lot of great feedback from people.”

After hosting open houses in Tofino, Ucluelet and Hitacu last week, BC Transit left the West Coast feeling confident about its plan to bring a peninsula-wide bus service to the area.

“We got a lot of great feedback from people. There are some things that we’re going to take back and make some tweaks and adjustments from what we’ve proposed here and we’re really excited to move this forward,” BC Transit’s senior planner Lindsay Taylor told the Westerly News during Ucluelet’s open house on April 4. “Everyone’s been really positive about everything so far. It’s really exciting for a community that does not have a transit system to see the potential of what a transit system can do…There’s a couple of details that we’ll need to nail down, but people seem pretty positive.”

READ MORE: BC Transit seeks local feedback for potential service between Tofino and Ucluelet

The bus schedule presented at the open houses showed two buses running between Tofino, Hitacu and Ucluelet. Each bus would leave Tofino and Ucluelet at the same time three times a day—8:20 a.m., 1 p.m. and 6:50 p.m.—and arrive in the other town one hour and 30 minutes later.

Taylor said the feedback received from West Coasters centred around scheduling and routes and that BC Transit plans to present a summary of the feedback it received to the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District in June.

“From there, we should have some direction on how we want to move forward,” she said.

As was reported in last week’s Westerly News, the service is expected to cost roughly $1.1 million annually if Hitacu is included on the bus route, or roughly $941,000 if Hitacu is not included. BC Transit would cover about 47 per cent of that cost leaving West Coast residents on the hook for the remaining 53 percent. If that 53 per cent is covered entirely by property taxes, BC Transit’s calculations suggest Ucluelet and Electoral Area C residents would pay $45-$135 and Tofino residents would pay $100-$190 annually.

“It definitely came up at the open house yesterday that when a service funded through the Regional District is paid for by Tofino, Ucluelet and Area C alone, the lion’s share of the cost does fall to Tofino taxpayers because the property values are higher in Tofino,” Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly News. “Certainly people are concerned and it’s important that they understand how the taxes all fall out and that there are some things we can control with that and there are some things that we cannot.”

She suggested other funding sources could be explored, along with potential contributions from Parks Canada and local First Nations, to ease the tax burden and added that the response from Tofino residents towards the transit plan has been positive.

“There’s a lot of time still left for those conversations around how the funding will all fall out. Right now, what’s really important is to get a sense from the public; is this a service that they want, that they need, that they can benefit from and, right now, I would say everything is indicating towards, ‘Yes,’” she said. “These are the kinds of decisions that are difficult to make in the now, but in 10 years we’ll thank ourselves for having the foresight as traffic increases, congestion, parking, greenhouse gas and other climate change concerns come up. This is the direction that we have to go.”

READ MORE: Pay parking comes back to Tofino

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel agreed, telling the Westerly that he was excited by BC Transit’s presentation and potential local service.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the entire region…I just want to get it happening sooner than later,” he said. “The critical component is our neighbouring First Nations communities and ensuring that all our communities are involved in the layout and the plan going forward on this.”

Electoral Area C director Kel Robert said he’s excited to see a transit service take shape, but that he’d like to see the bus route go all the way into Millstream, rather than just stopping along the Pacific Rim Highway as currently proposed.

“I think this is a really good first step initiative to provide it for the whole peninsula…It’s excellent,” he said adding the Area C residents he’d spoken with supported the idea. “They think that it’s long overdue…They’re totally in favour of it. They all seem to be on board and we’d like to see it going as soon as possible.”

READ MORE: Leadership Vancouver Island students promote Wheels for Wellness in Tofino



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

10th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic embraces catch and release format for Chinook prizes

Fundraising fishing derby has raised over $500,000 for community initiatives since its inception.

Courtenay-Alberni Greens name Sean Wood as federal candidate

Nomination meeting took place June 15 at Hupacasath Hall in Port Alberni

Musings from surfers about surfboards

“I tried to make it so it was easy to get into waves and not too floaty so you could duck dive it.”

Tla-o-qui-aht board fish farms to obtain video footage of pens

Fish farms were boarded under the authority of the Tla-o-qui-aht Hereditary Chief Ray Seitcher.

Tofino Jazz Festival returns this weekend

“The Festival’s main mission is to provide an opportunity to build community through music.”

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read