Local officials recently tinkered with the idea of installing a traffic circle to ease drivers through the West Coast junction.
During Tofino’s regular council meeting last week, Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne said the idea to loop the junction gained a bit of traction after being batted around at an Alberni Clayoquot Regional district meeting.
“This is a request that (Ucluelet) Mayor (Bill) Irving and I made at an ACRD meeting to discuss the idea of improving the safety of that intersection,” Osborne said.
“Questions have been raised about sightlines on the triangle, or the T-Junction if you will, as well as the difficulty that some larger trucks have in negotiating the corner at the speeds that they do and the general state of the junction.”
BC’s ministry of transportation volunteered to draw up engineering plans and lay out the logistics of a traffic circle but declined to foot the bill for the actual work.
“They presented some concept plans and then told us that if we had $800,000 to $1 million they would happily install a roundabout for us,” Osborne said. Irving told the Westerly that “it’s extremely unlikely” a traffic circle will come to fruition given its cost
and the province’s unwillingness to fund the project.
“They don’t generally build them unless there’s a significant traffic demand and there isn’t one there so they wouldn’t lead the initiative,” he said of the Province.
“That doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be partnerships if people felt it was worth the effort but right now we haven’t had that discussion with Tofino.”
This discussion will likely marinate on the sidelines as West Coast officials focus on tackling the junction’s cluttered signage issue.
Tofino and Ucluelet continue their collaborative push for new directional signage that would combine a handful of signs into one that would include direction and distances to both towns as well as the West Coast’s First Nations.
“It’s always interesting to learn about their rules around signs and how they determine what communities can be on the sign or not but that conversation will probably have to continue,” Osborne said.
Irving seemed more optimistic. “The ministry has done some mock ups (and) we’re getting closer and closer to something that we think will be nice, simple and tidy and will include everybody,” he said.
He suggested roughly seven signs currently crowd the area directing traffic to various locations and said they should all “be either moved to a more appropriate spot or eliminated.”
One sign that won’t be eliminated is the large welcome sign Ucluelet installed at the junction last year.
Cameron: Ucluelet sign blocking sightlines During Tofino’s council meeting, Coun. Garth Cameron asked Osborne if the conversation with the ministry had included thoughts about Ucluelet’s sign blocking drivers’ sightlines but Osborne responded it had not come up.
Cameron said the sign is causing residents to have difficulty turning at the junction.
“They can’t see around the corner,” he said. “One person in particular almost had a motor vehicle accident as a result of not being able to see around the Ucluelet sign.”
Irving said Ucluelet is familiar with this sentiment from Tofino but has not found evidence to back it up.
“Both the district (of Ucluelet) and the ministry looked at it and they couldn’t find any substance to that comment,” he said. “The sightlines just don’t show a problem, but we’d have to have a more specific discussion with Tofino if it’s an ongoing issue for them.”
He said the West Coast’s next meeting with the ministry of transportation will likely come at September’s Union of BC municipalities convention (UBCM) and both Tofino and Ucluelet may tagteam one meeting rather than have two separate ones.
The UBCM is held annually to give local governments a chance to meet with each other as well as with higher levels of government.
Meetings with specific ministries only run about 15 minutes so local governments are hard-pressed to make their case in the allotted time but Irving believes a neighbourly tag-team between Tofino and Ucluelet would provide a solid strength-in-numbers benefit.
“It adds a lot of weight to regional issues,” he said. “Generally what we’ve found, and I think Tofino is similar, is that those short 15 minute meetings are to introduce the topic and ask for a follow up meeting either with the minister or senior staff.”
Irving noted the culmination of junction signage would be a provincial initiative paid for by the province.