The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is looking into adding new visitor kiosks on the highway between Tofino and Ucluelet. (Westerly file photo)

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve looking into drive-thru visitor kiosks on highway

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, Ucluelet First Nation, Tofino and Ucluelet to be consulted.

Drive-thru visitor centres could be coming to the Pacific Rim Highway between Tofino and Ucluelet.

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is looking into installing highway visitor kiosks at its northern and southern boundaries along the highway and has budgeted $78,341 for an independent feasibility study that’s currently underway.

“While visitor information is available at other locations, entry kiosks would provide Parks Canada team members the opportunity to directly engage with many more visitors and provide important information on the national park reserve. This includes current information on coexisting with wildlife, coastal safety, visitor experiences, special events, and more,” Park Reserve superintendent Karen Haugen told the Westerly News via email.

“Further, national park entry passes would also be available at the kiosks, but it is more than that. It is about welcoming and engaging the visitor and providing important information on the national park reserve, including that national park entry fees are reinvested to support visitor programs, services, and facilities.”

Haugen said that study is still in its early stages and is “exploratory in nature,” meaning no decisions have been made and added that the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Ucluelet First Nation would be consulted, as well as the communities of Tofino and Ucluelet, before any shovels hit the ground.

“It will develop two conceptual designs for national park entry kiosks after exploring options that best meet these objectives, while taking into consideration a number of related factors, including highway traffic flow, volumes and capacity requirements, and environmental and cultural factors,” she wrote, adding that potentially widening the highway to make room for the kiosks is on the table.

“This feasibility study will consider mandatory bypass lanes to avoid traffic slowdowns for community members, or regional visitors who are passing through or who already have valid national park entry passes. As part of this feasibility study, through lanes will be included in all the national park entry kiosk options for consideration. These options will recommend if the roadway will need to be widened.”

READ MORE: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve installs new $300K signs to boost safety messaging

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