Tofino Chamber board supports regional transit
The Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Supports the Implementation of a Regional Transit Service
November 18, 2019
The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District is currently undergoing an Alternate Approval Process (AAP) for elector assent regarding the establishment of a proposed West Coast Transit Service. This process is ongoing until Nov. 30th.
The proposal involves partnering with BC Transit to provide a conventional fixed route transit service operating between Tofino, Ucluelet, Long Beach, Toquaht, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, Hitacu, Esowista and Ty-histanis.
A portion of the program (47%) would be paid for through subsidies from BC Transit, and the remainder (53%) would come from fares and a local government contribution from taxation (fares would cover 13% and local government contribution through taxation would be 40%). Normally, and with the exception of the Vancouver Island Library, regional district services are based entirely on a local government contribution through property taxation. This service, like the library, will be based 50% on population and 50% on taxation.
Please see here for more information on the cost, details and AAP process around the proposed transit service: https://bit.ly/3509PE1. The feasibility study for the transit proposal is available here: https://bit.ly/2rW9Omo.
The board of directors of the Chamber supports this service on the basis that it is good for the community and good for businesses.
The Chamber participated early on in the process of recognizing the need and desire for such a service through the West Coast Transportation Committee. This group then lobbied BC Transit to engage in a feasibility study of the potential for a transit service on the west coast. After many years of work, we are now in a position where this service could become a reality.
The board supports the service as it would provide a reliable and affordable transportation link from west coast communities to Tofino. As we all know, housing in Tofino is at a critical level, and many local employers rely on employees residing in other west coast communities. The lack of housing and lack of staff continue to be the two most pressing issues for local businesses according to our members survey.
We also live in a region that one of the top three highest Living Wages in the province. The affordability and availability of transportation is currently a barrier to employment, and also affects the overall health and wellbeing of west coast communities.
The service would also reduce traffic and congestion, a concern for many, and public transit provides a greener option for travel.
While the benefits of the program are many, the Chamber board also recognizes that Tofino property owners and businesses are facing unprecedented increases to property taxes in the coming few years. Therefore, the board strongly urges the regional district to engage with other west coast communities and agencies in transit funding agreements, including non-treaty First Nations, School District 70 and Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (Toquaht and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ are part of the Maanulth Nations that will contribute through taxation). There are other models in the province whereby financial contributions to public transit come from other sources than the transit authority and municipal tax contributions, and the west coast should be one such model.
The board also recognizes the frustration that half of Tofino’s portion of this service will be higher based on property values. We would like the ACRD board to understand and recognize that this allocation does not necessarily make it easier for residents and business owners of Tofino to afford the service, something we would ask the board to consider during policy discussions.
Contact: Jen Dart, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com