The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) plans to undertake a feasibility study about the future of the Hole in the Wall.
The Hole in the Wall is a popular attraction in Port Alberni, but its growing popularity has created some safety concerns around traffic and parking. Access to the area is through private forestry land, which means there is no parking. Visitors often park on the shoulder of a curve on Highway 4 or park across the highway at Coombs Country Candy and dodge traffic on foot.
Michael McGregor, the ACRD’s lands and resources coordinator, told the ACRD board during a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 13 that staff have met with Mosaic Forest Management and the Ministry of Transportation on multiple occasions about the safety issues associated with the Hole in the Wall.
“I think there’s good group consensus there that some action should be taken to address the public safety concerns,” said McGregor.
However, both Mosaic and the MOTI want the ACRD to take the lead on the project. This is difficult, said McGregor, because the ACRD currently has no jurisdiction over the trail leading to the Hole in the Wall, and the board cannot proceed with leading any project until the trail is legally designated within an ACRD service.
McGregor gave the board a couple of options on Wednesday, including the option to start a feasibility study where staff can explore adding the trail to an existing or new ACRD service by securing a Licence of Occupation from Mosaic.
City of Port Alberni director Debbie Haggard said that the issue is complex because of the different parties involved, and she didn’t feel it should be a priority for the ACRD at this time.
“I think the cost to develop this into a regional park is going to be extremely cost-prohibitive,” said Haggard. “I just don’t think this is something we have the capacity to take on at this time.”
Cherry Creek director Mike Sparrow says the issue won’t go away if the ACRD defers it because the area is still being promoted as a tourist attraction by various publications and mobile phone applications.
“They’re still going to find a way to get there,” said Sparrow.
The ACRD board agreed to direct staff to lead a Hole in the Wall feasibility study.