Tofino just changed their downtown parking rules from parking to paid parking.
While some concerns over affordability for residents were raised before the change was made, the expected $220,000+ in city revenue was too large to pass up for most of the City Council.
“Frankly, people paying downtown will largely be tourists. There will be some residents, but most likely residents have the opportunity to avoid the downtown because they’re not here on holiday, and they can make other choices,” said Aaron Rodgers, Tofino’s Director of Infrastructure and Public Works, in a meeting.
However, new concerns have been raised now that paid parking has been implemented.
Residents from Hesquiaht, Tla-o-qui-aht, and Ahousaht communities rely on the 110 allocated offshore parking spots to safely leave their vehicles while they travel home by boat or seaplane. Forty of these spots are given to Tla-o-qui-aht, according to the District of Tofino.
However, new signage has led to confusion for both locals and tourists.
To avoid the pay parking, some tourists park in the offshore spots, which were previously clearly indicated as such.
“Even if we have a valid permit hanging on our rearview mirror, we have nowhere to park,” lamented Ahousaht resident Curt McLeod to Ha-Shilth-Sa.
He has even seen vehicles with Washington and Alberta plates using these spots.
Until recently, residents could park almost anywhere if the offshore spots were taken, but now all other parking spots are paid, so offshore residents run the risk of tickets or towing.
In response to the concerns, the District of Tofino has said they know of the limited parking in the downtown core and are committed to working with offshore communities for a long-term solution.
However, in an email, the city stated it is “aware that parking is limited in the downtown core and cannot meet the demands of everyone.”
They emphasized that all drivers must comply with the posted time restrictions.
Offshore permits are free and valid for one year, and residents can obtain them at the Tofino municipal office or register online with their license plate number and proof of offshore residency.
But there is not much point in having an offshore permit if tourists fill the allotted spaces.
The offshore parking spaces are available on a “first come, first served” basis.
Permit holders may park in unrestricted areas or time-limited spots with the applicable fee if there is no offshore parking.
McLeod highlighted the importance of the offshore areas for residents. “If there weren’t offshore areas…we wouldn’t be able to park in Tofino. That’s really our parking lot down there.”
The change has confused everyone, and offshore residents hope for a resolution soon.