Phase 1 – Public Information Sessions
Public Information Sessions
Two public events were held in Port Alberni and Parksville.
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Time: 4 pm to 8 pm
Location: Port Alberni Friendship Centre, Clutesi Hall, 3555 4th Avenue, Port Alberni
Date: Thursday, November 22, 2018
Time: 4 pm to 8 pm
Location: Oceanside Place Multi-Purpose Room, 830 West Island Highway, Parksville
Download the full PDF version of the poster boards displayed at the open houses or view below.
Why are we doing this study?
- Each year roughly 500,000 visitors from around the world come to experience the old growth giants and unparalleled beauty of Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial
- Most visitors arrive by vehicle, parking along Hwy 4 and crossing the highway to visit both sides of the park.
- Parking demand often exceeds capacity which leads to unsafe maneuvers, compromising safety for pedestrians and
- A safety issue has existed for many years and continues to grow as trafﬁc through the park increases.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure aims to build and maintain a safe and reliable multi- modal transportation system for British Columbians.
Where are we going?
The objective of this Study is to make recommendations for pedestrian and trafﬁc safety improvements that could be completed in a short-term time frame.
How can you help?
- Share your experiences as a visitor to the Park
- Share your experiences using Highway 4 and traveling through the Park
- Discuss your views on pedestrian and trafﬁc safety issues and on Park values
Consider potential improvements that could improve safety while protecting important park values
What is the process?
During this ﬁrst engagement, our focus is on learning about the issues and the area. The input we receive will be used to guide development of pedestrian and trafﬁc safety improvement options. In Spring 2019 we’ll be engaging further on these options.
Before developing pedestrian and safety improvement options, we’d like to better understand the various aspects that need to be considered. This process will begin with listening and understanding before improvement options are brought forward for consideration.
Learning from the past
This is not the ﬁrst time that changes in MacMillan Provincial Park have been considered. Looking back at these previous projects we are learning about the ecological and spiritual values of the park and the concerns people have about potential impacts.
For this Study, we would like to undertake a thoughtful and thorough engagement process, in which we listen carefully to opinions, values, and ideas before options are developed.
Our goal is to work with participants to ﬁnd solutions that address both safety concerns and protection of the park’s inherent values.
Noted values & Concerns
As we compile values to be taken into this process, we can look back at those that have been previously identiﬁed, including:
- Safety of park visitors and road users
- Opportunities to continue visiting Cathedral Grove
- Potential effects on an important old growth forest area
- Potential effects on the Cameron River
- Potential effects on First Nations values
- Potential habitat impacts, notably to Roosevelt Elk, a blue-listed species
- Potential ﬁsh habitat impacts
- Potential impacts to red-listed plant species in the area
- Windthrow (tree blow-down) issues related to tree removal
- Concerns about too much use or development in a natural area
To better understand how people and vehicles interact, the Ministry has analyzed existing roadway conditions, pedestrian movements, parking capacity, and vehicle movements.
- Highway 4: 80 km/hr
- Cathedral Grove: Reduced speed to 50 km/hr with transitional 60 km/hr zones
- One primary parking lot
- Three parking pull-outs
- Total parking capacity: 50 to 54 vehicles
- Narrow width under 2.0 m
- Mature trees in close proximity to shoulder
Over the years, several safety improvements have been implemented at Cathedral Grove. These have improved conditions by increasing motorist awareness and slowing vehicles. However, safety concerns still exist.
- 50 km Speed Limit & Speed Reader Boards advise motorists if they’re within the posted speed limit.
- Overhead Flashing Pedestrian Sign emphasize the need for extreme caution in the area.
- “SLOW” Warning Signs remind motorists to mind their speed as they enter the park.
- No Left Turn Signs advise motorists they cannot turn left into the parking area.
Thousands of people travel through Cathedral Grove daily. Pedestrians on the highway and uncontrolled crossings increase the potential for an accident that could have serious consequences.
On average, during a two-hour period on a summer day 530 pedestrians cross the highway at Cathedral Grove:
- Most park-goers cross the highway to visit trails on both sides.
- Pedestrians walk along highway shoulders from parked vehicles to park destinations, at times walking in vehicle travel lanes.
- Groups of 1 to 20 people cross the highway at a time, often including children, infants in strollers, and the elderly.
- There is no designated crossing point or time – pedestrians cross when trafﬁc stops or slows, at times waiting several minutes or running to beat vehicles.
People travel many kilometres to visit Cathedral Grove. Because the park is a destination, people want to complete their visit even if the parking lot is full. This can lead to visitors parking in unsafe ways.
Parking demand often exceeds capacity
The location of the park means most visitors arrive by personal vehicle, with some arriving by tour bus. Parking demand often exceeds capacity at mid-day. Vehicles parked on narrow shoulders affect roadway widths, impacting pedestrian and motorist safety. Vehicles often park in no-parking zones when designated lots are full. Larger vehicles like buses and RVs often double park, impacting sight-lines for pedestrians and drivers.
Typically in summer, the parking areas are over capacity between 10 am to 4 pm. Counts show parking demand often reaches twice the capacity at this time. Below are numbers from parking counts completed in the past three summers.
- Thursday, August 25, 2016 at 2:30 pm: 85 cars and 5 Recreational Vehicles
- Friday, August 18, 2017 at 11:30 am: 84 cars, 6 Recreational Vehicles, 1 bus and 3 motorcycles
- Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 11:30 am: 111 cars
Over 10,000 vehicles pass through Cathedral Grove on Highway 4 daily. Many stop to visit the park. During site analysis, vehicles at Cathedral Grove were observed using the highway as a loading zone, conducting U-turns and three-point turns in the travel lanes, reversing into oncoming trafﬁc, and backing up across both highway lanes.
- Daily volumes are heaviest in mid- day (11 am to 4 pm). Weekly volumes are heaviest Friday afternoon and Saturday mid-day.
- About 90% of the trafﬁc is passenger vehicles. The remaining 10% are heavy vehicles and recreational vehicles.
Traffic is Increasing
Periodic trafﬁc counts show a steady increase in the number of vehicles passing through Cathedral Grove.
- In 1987 there were 5,800 vehicles per day.
- In 2005 there were 9,200 vehicles per day.
- In 2017 there were 10,900 vehicles per day.
What Types of Improvements could be Considered?
Over the years, a range of ideas have been suggested for improving pedestrian safety, parking capacity, and trafﬁc safety around Cathedral Grove. This Study could look at ideas such as:
- Improved pedestrian movements
- Upgrades to existing parking areas
- Additional parking
- New trail connections
- Safe U-turn locations
- Improved safety along the highway shoulders
- Improved signage and markings
- Other ideas?
What issues or concerns do you think need to be addressed if these types of improvements are considered? What other ideas should be considered? Please ﬁll out a questionnaire to share your thoughts.
For the remainder of 2018 we will continue to receive input and ideas. Please provide your initial input by January 4, 2019.
In Spring 2019, watch for:
- An input summary posted on the Project website at: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/cathedralgrove
- Announcements about next steps in the process and opportunities to be involved
MacMillan Provincial Park
Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas ﬁr trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-ﬁr trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world – some more than 800 years old.
Established in 1947, MacMillan Provincial Park protects and preserves an internationally signiﬁcant representative example of Douglas ﬁr old-growth forest within the Coastal Western Hemlock Biogeoclimatic Zone. The park is 301 hectares in size.
Visitors come from across Canada and throughout the world to experience the coastal old growth trees, wildlife, culture, and history of this special area.