A plan to make Ucluelet’s Village Green more pedestrian friendly has received push-back over the removal of parking spaces. (Image from District of Ucluelet council agenda)

A plan to make Ucluelet’s Village Green more pedestrian friendly has received push-back over the removal of parking spaces. (Image from District of Ucluelet council agenda)

Ucluelet council set to review Village Green Revitalization survey results

District proposing a $1.2 million project to make Ucluelet’s downtown core more pedestrian friendly

Ucluelet’s municipal council is expected to review the feedback received from its Village Green Revitalization project survey this month, according to Ucluelet Mayor Mayco Noel.

“I’m waiting to see what the feedback is and then we’ll come up with some other solutions to at least please 85 per cent of the people down there,” mayor Mayco Noel told the Westerly News on Sunday. “I think the plan has some good things in it, when it comes to specific things like parking and everything else obviously there’s some concern, so we’ll be reviewing that. We live here too and we want to make sure that we get it right…There’s no games going on. We need to look at the downtown core and try to find a good, happy medium.”

The district is proposing a $1.2 million project to make Ucluelet’s downtown core more pedestrian friendly, though the plan has drawn criticism from residents because it will eliminate roughly 25 parking spots from the area.

Crow’s Nest owner Jan Draeseke believes eliminating those spaces will shut down her business and urged council to reconsider during their Dec. 14 regular meeting.

The district received a $700,000 grant from the provincial government’s Tourism Dependent Community Fund for the project in March. That grant would be supplemented by $116,775 from Gas Tax funds and $400,000 from the Resort Municipality Initiative.

The district awarded a $149,955 contract to Lanarc Consultants and Herold Engineering in August to complete planning and design work that began in September.

“For most projects, getting the money is the one we never get,” Noel said, adding he has not been surprised by the town’s response thus far.

“Any time there’s change, there’s opposition…I’m not surprised and I’m encouraged to hear that people are wanting to understand the process, but this hasn’t been a secret. We’ve been working on what we can do with the downtown area and how we can do that without using taxpayer’s money.”

He acknowledged that, “obviously no one wants to lose 30 parking spots,” but noted the road is an extension of the highway, putting it under the provincial government’s umbrella, and there are safety concerns regarding traffic.

“With the popularity of our community, we’ve got fish trucks coming up the hill, we’ve got stop signs, we’ve got cars backing into traffic and we have to take into account that there’s an opportunity to change a bit of the flow in that area,” he said.

He believes the project’s added crosswalks, wider sidewalks and expansion of the playground would benefit the area.

“In general, widening sidewalks, creating some green space, those are all positives but they can’t be at the expense of the local business people down there,” he said.

He noted the district recently completed a new parking lot off Cedar Road to ease parking congestion downtown, but that lot has so far been underused.

“That’s just part of trying to make the downtown core flow and we’d always hoped that parking lot there would be used more by the people that actually have businesses in the community, but it seems like they’re the last ones to actually use that parking because most of the people that work in that downtown core like to take those precious parking spots that we have right now,” he said.

He said he expects district staff to present council with a summary of the feedback received during the survey around the end of January. Ucluelet’s next council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 25.

He added that ideas are also circulating around improving the pedestrian experience on Peninsula Road.

“We have to do a couple of different changes here,” he said. “We have to be forward thinking.”



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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