Ucluelet’s municipal council is preparing a public meeting to talk about the town’s traffic flow, particularly the routes tourists are taking to get to the community’s largest hotel.
The idea came from Coun. Mayco Noel who, during last week’s regular council meeting, suggested signage be installed to divert drivers heading to Black Rock Resort off Peninsula Road and onto Rainforest Drive, by way of Norah Road, before they hit the centre of town.
“Some cheap, inexpensive, signs might be able to direct traffic around town and, I think, people in the community might have some ideas as well; so it’s not just coming from us,” he said.
During the meeting’s public question period, Alex Marshall suggested directing tourists onto side streets would make them harder for locals to avoid.
“I think it’s really important, in tourist season, to be able to have ways that local people can get around and get away from those tourists,” she said.
Noel said filling side streets was not his intention, but that Black Rock’s guests are getting lost and driving erratically through residential streets searching for their destination.
“They get through town and they get frustrated,” he said. “They hit the residential streets. They’re lost. It’s 9 p.m. and they want to get to their evening…We need to take some steps in order to show them a way to get there.”
Donald Foster doubted the town’s side roads could handle more congestion.
“None of them are meant for that kind of traffic, especially people who don’t know where they’re headed,” he said.
Noel said he hoped Marshall and Foster attended the public meeting to express their opinions. “My opinion on Rainforest is that it does have sidewalks [and] it’s a wide street,” he said. “Rainforest is a great avenue for people to get to Big Beach and up to Black Rock. So, how do we do that through signage?..It’s just a discussion I would like to have with the group.”
Immediately after the meeting, conversations popped up on social media with several members of the local business community questioning why council would want to steer traffic around their stores.
“I don’t understand why they would want to take the traffic out of the main business district,” Ocean Pet Supplies owner Carla Dave Anderson told the Westerly News. “[Tourists] are passing the restaurants that they’re going to eat dinner at later and the shops that they’re going to shop at…There’s so many shops all along this street [Peninsula].”
She added local shop owners have no problems giving directions to tourists looking for Black Rock and added that the turn off of Peninsula and onto Norah is not ready for increased usage.
“That corner is awful and it’s very residential, so you’re sending so many more tourists past houses, kids playing and dogs walking. Through town, there’s less of that. It’s more industry,” she said.
She added she’s happy to see council holding a meeting to talk about traffic, but said it must be advertised properly to be effective and cited the district’s recent business licence open house that, she said, too few people knew about due to a lack of advertising.
“The only reason I knew about it is because I tried to get my business licence and they told me I couldn’t,” she said.
“Proper advertising is key to get as much attendance as possible…They’ve got to advertise it properly. The Westerly, social media and ucluelet.ca is perfect. That’s three different avenues you could advertise in.”