Tofino plans to launch a pay-parking system around its public beaches, including this lot at Chesterman Beach. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino plans to launch a pay-parking system around its public beaches, including this lot at Chesterman Beach. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino set to charge for parking at public beaches

Fees will be charged at roughly 10 locations including Chesterman Beach

Tofino is preparing to introduce pay parking at its beaches this summer.

During a special meeting held last month, the town’s municipal council unanimously endorsed seeking out a third party to implement pay parking at about 10 local beach sites.

Hourly rates have not yet been hammered out, but will be similar to those in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The Park Reserve’s day rates are: $10 for an adult, $8.40 for seniors and $20 for families or carpoolers.

Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Fraser Work said an annual pass will be implemented to provide discounts to locals and that residents of Tofino and neighbouring First Nations would receive a free pass in 2021, with an undetermined fee being introduced in 2022. Alberni Clayoquot Regional District residents living outside Tofino, including Ucluetians, will be charged $60 for an annual pass once the program is launched.

Anyone living outside the ACRD will be charged $120 for an annual pass.

Commercial vehicles, like surf schools, are expected to be charged between $300 – $600 for an annual beach parking permit.

Work added that all groups are expected to be restricted to a maximum of four hours to increase turnover and allow people circulating the block to eventually get to the beach.

“We have to draw a line in the sand somewhere,” Coun. Britt Chalmers said. “We’ve tried to distinguish between the maximum privilege in the first year going to Tofino residents and the First Nations communities with a very inexpensive but reasonable cost for ACRD (residents), which would potentially access our facilities at a much higher frequency than others on the Island.”

He explained the need to charge for parking arised from high demand and limited supply, abuse of current parking laws, traffic safety impacts and wear and tear on infrastructure, adding that a tighter configuration would maximize the space currently allocated for parking.

“There’s a set of parking problems that we’re trying to solve…We, of course, have a very high demand for a limited supply of parking. We also suffer from an inefficient use of available space in many areas, especially at the beaches,” he said.

Mayor Dan Law expressed concern about capping beach visits for locals to four hours.

“I’d really hate to see a resident stay for five hours and get a parking ticket for it,” he said.

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RELATED: Bonfires out, but machine-powered beach fires still OK in Tofino

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