Chesterman Beach goers have turned Lynn Road into a congested catastrophe, according to area residents.
“Lynn Road is no longer a two lane municipal road. It is a tourist parking lot and surfer change room,” wrote Peter and Julia Robbins in a letter recently reviewed by Tofino’s municipal council. “As full time residents living on Lynn Road, we are increasingly annoyed not only by the parking on the road but also by the behaviour of the people parking there.”
The Robbins suggested surfers are donning and shedding their wetsuits in the middle of the road and leaving their vehicles’ doors open as they do so.
“This is becoming a year round problem and the one side of the road parking solution is not working. It has become one lane only for traffic and tempers are getting frayed,” they wrote.
“Potholes are plentiful at the bottom of driveways that are being used for turning and the shoulder of the road is rapidly subsiding into the ditch.”
Coun. Cathy Thicke agreed with the Robbins and said something must be done.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg and, I think, we need to do something there,” she said.
Coun. Greg Blanchette agreed but also noted the letter’s suggestion that the road is deteriorating and cautioned the parking issue might be blinding the district’s eyes to a larger one.
“I hope that we are keeping an eye on that and not letting a mere parking issue turn into a larger maintenance issue,” he said.
District CAO Bob Macpherson said staff has no current plan to tackle Lynn Road but cautioned council a road maintenance plan would need to come sooner than later.
“I’ve expressed to council several times that we need to do more for maintaining our roads, from blacktop to what lies under the blacktop, and Lynn Road is certainly an example of that,” he said.
“I’m not an engineer, but I don’t believe the ditching and drainage system has been maintained, probably, the way it should be, so that’s something we’ll have to look at for future years and start budgeting for.”
Blanchette said Chesterman’s popularity would always make Lynn Road prone to parking problems and suggested bylaw enforcement was the only real solution.
“Ultimately, it’s got to boil down to a bylaw issue where it’s just, ‘We’re full, nobody else can park here,’ and you ticket the hell out of those who are parking there illegally,” he said.
Coun. Ray Throgood cited a meeting the district had with local surf schools last year and said that meeting should be repeated in short order.
“This additional clutter and just bad manners to motorists coming down and users of Lynn Road exacerbates, or adds to, the parking issue itself,” he said.
“It might be an idea that the surf schools would be approached again to remind their customers to be good tourists in our town.”
“We do have occasional unlawful behaviour and more than occasional disrespectful behaviour,” he said. “I don’t know that we’ll ever convince everybody that’s coming here for a holiday to remember that they’re in a place where people live everyday but there are probably some things we can try.”
Blanchette suggested a media campaign could help get the message to tourists to be respectful of the locals around them.
“Throwing a little staff time at creating a behavioural adjustment campaign around surfer behaviour, particularly in the Lynn Road area, might yield some benefits,” he said.
Thicke suggested such a campaign would fit well into the wheelhouse of Tourism Tofino.
“This could be a really good public relation issue for Tourism Tofino because, let’s face it, most people who surf here and live here get changed at home,” she said.
“What an amazing opportunity really for [Tourism Tofino] and their website to develop that. Not just about surfing etiquette in the water, but the whole ethos of changing and where to park and all of that stuff. It’s a unique opportunity for them, I mean, that’s who we are; we’re a surf town, let’s do it well.”