Ucluelet’s municipal council expressed disappointment at their Nov. 28 regular meeting when they announced that Tofino will not be participating in, or financially supporting, the Pacific Rim Visitors Centre at the West Coast junction.
“Tourism Tofino has made it quite clear that they are not going to be contributing monies to assist us in visitor services,” said Coun. Mayco Noel. “We all know we’ve been working patiently hoping that Tourism Tofino was going to be throwing in money for the last few years and it came down that it’s official: TT is not going to be contributing. It’s kind of a big disappointment really.”
Ucluelet owns the land and building, and partners with Tourism Ucluelet and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve to ensure visitors to walk in receive the directions they need to where they want to go.
Noel said Tofino’s decision not to participate would affect the centre’s future planning.
“It’s going to make it quite clear for this council that we’re going to have really no choice, but that junction property is going to represent more of the south peninsula,” he said. “That’s something we’ll be working together with TU and council for next steps.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques agreed.
“It’s disappointing that Tofino has decided, at this time, not to participate and certainly the door will always be open to them to have discussions down the road,” she said. “At the same time, it’s good for us to know. We’re clear now and Tofino is clear…As the owners of the property out there and the folks that Tourism Ucluelet answer to, it’s helped provide clarity for us.”
During the meeting’s public question period, the Westerly News asked if council had anticipated support from Tofino and Noel responded that they had.
“This council really hoped that we were going to try to foster some new relationships…and hopefully they’d see some value in contributing there. Unfortunately, it never worked out,” he said.
St. Jacques reemphasized that the centre’s information would be focused on communities to the south, like Ucluelet, Macoah and Hitacu.
“The important thing to us is the visitor experience, there’s no doubt about that, to welcome people in a positive way and, when it comes to Tofino information, we will direct them to the Tofino information [centre] down the road,” she said.
New tourist accommodation
Council approved a development permit for a new resort condo to be built on a currently vacant site along the Boardwalk Boulevard loop, within the Reef Point Development.
The application allows for the construction of two identical resort condo buildings, with each containing two separate suites, on the roughly 300 sq. metre lot.
“The Reef Point Development Permit Area is intended for large scale tourist commercial developments, wrote Ucluelet’s Planner 1 John Towgood in a report to council. “The building area of the lot has been cleared and contains no significant environmental features.”
Coun. Mayco Noel is hoping to help the current housing crisis by opening up opportunities for current residents to offer monthly accommodations.
“We all know it’s a big issue here and I’m kind of looking for some support on secondary dwellings on existing properties,” Noel said, “with the end goal to allow new opportunities for existing property owners to add housing to their property for possible monthly rentals.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques said the district staff is currently putting together an affordable housing committee that could help look into Noel’s request.
“It’s certainly is a good for discussion as far as affordable housing goes, or housing options for people,” she said.
District CAO Mark Boysen said district staff are preparing a report to council that will lay out what the committee would look like and how it would function.
Noel suggested council has the ability to allow existing properties to do monthly rentals and that waiting would not be prudent.
“I would just like to see it move along. I get nervous when we talk about committees,” he said adding the perception is that sometimes the speed of action is “like molasses.”
“I just want to stress that, I think, it’s something that we need to move forward quickly on. Smartly, but quickly…With the situation in the community, we do have the ability, without a big affordable housing complex, to do something with existing lots and property owners who may be able to do a secondary suite on their property.”
St. Jacques assured the committee would not dilly-dally.
“I think we’re all pretty clear that we do not want to form a committee just for the sake of forming a committee, we want some action out of it and some deliverables,” she said.