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B.C. tourist town adds pay parking, ends up losing money in the process

Tofino tweaking downtown parking fees after missing revenue targets and losing money
Tofino’s first crack at charging parking fees in its downtown core lost more money than it generated in 2023. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Tofino is tweaking its downtown pay parking program after it not only failed to meet its revenue targets, but actually lost the district money last year as a staff accounting error led to significantly higher expenses than expected.

The downtown pay parking program made its debut in the Vancouver Island destination mecca in 2023. It was expected to generate $440,000 and cost $210,000 to run, leading to an anticipated net profit of $230,000.

Instead, it lost about $30,000.

The district’s 2023 budget allocated a $296,000 contract for Victoria-based company Robbins Parking to manage Tofino’s beach and downtown pay parking programs, but the town’s municipal council recently learned the contract paid Robbins $448,900 as well as an additional incentive fee of 5.5 per cent of revenue collected.

That canyon-sized gap between expectation and reality was caused by an error in budget planning that district staff are assuring won’t happen again.

Mayor Dan Law questioned how such a broad difference in the contract costs with Robbins Parking between what was expected and what was actually paid could occur.

“Basically we underestimated about 37 per cent because we were using a formula from a previous financial plan that didn’t account for a number of kiosks or how we apportioned which kiosks were there. There was definitely an issue with the formula,” Director of Infrastructure and Public Works Aaron Rodgers said.

Rodgers added that despite missing its revenue target, the downtown pay parking program did meet its goal of freeing up parking spots by increasing turnover.

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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