Award-Winning Tofino Downtown Vitalization Plan

The District of Tofino‘s Vitalization Committee commissioned CitySpaces to lead a multi-day charrette with the community to develop a Downtown Tofino Vitalization Plan. In 2012, CitySpaces won the Planning Institute of British Columbia Award of Excellence in Planning for its Tofino Vitalization Plan.

Tofino Downtown Vitalization Plan backgrounder:
Tofino is a unique waterfront community in North America – relaxed and eclectic. In recent years, Tofino has experienced growth with some redevelopment and required a plan to improve the overall feel, enhance the pedestrian environment, and celebrate what makes Tofino special. The key to success for Tofino’s future lies in balancing the interests of both permanent residents and short-term visitors. The work involved the coordination of a multi-disciplinary study of Downtown Tofino, with an emphasis on re-envisioning the streets, adjacent building forms, and access to the waterfront with consideration given to the arts and use of public municipal lands within Downtown Tofino. CitySpaces brought in design and transportation sub teams; Frank Ducote Urban Design, and Bunt & Associates to work on the Tofino Downtown Vitalization Plan.
CitySpaces’ community consultation included a pre-charrette survey to gain insight into current issues. Multiple stakeholders participated in the charrette process, which has resulted in a series of ideas, plans and diagrams. The public was welcome to sit in and observe the charrette, while it was in progress.  At the end of each day, a “Charrette Café” was held so the public could come and review the work to date.

The overall stakeholder group was made up of invited individuals from a broad cross-section of the community. The intent with an invited list was to bring key stakeholders from the community together around a table to debate the issues, develop areas of commonality and build consensus. There were thirty charrette participants representing twenty seven groups, as follows:

From the Emerging Directions developed during the Tofino Downtown Vitalization Plan charrette, a Vision and Guiding Principles were created to reflect the outcomes of the charrette.

 “Tofino will be a highly walkable, bikeable, accessible, and inclusive downtown, focusing on a blend of uses including commercial, residential, civic, and arts and culture, while capitalizing on its historic working relationship to the water and the waterfront.”


The following principles will guide the Vitalization of Tofino.  Tofino will:

  • Create a highly walkable, comfortable and safe place for pedestrians;
  • Develop a strong entry experience to the downtown commercial core;
  • Develop Campbell Street as the main retail street, infilling existing gaps over time;
  • Develop Main Street as a pedestrian-oriented street with a mix of ground floor uses, including residential, retail, arts, office and waterfront-related uses relating to the traditional building forms along the water;
  • Manage parking more efficiently, in order to reduce conflicts of all users (RV’s, long term parking, etc.)
  • Incorporate cycling in the street designs for Campbell and Gibson Streets;
  • Develop a waterfront walkway as a community asset;
  • Provide a blend of building heights, starting at 2-storeys on Main Street and building to 3-storeys on Campbell;
  • Preserve streetend views and internal secondary views (e.g. view to church steeple and mountains beyond from the CO-OP);
  • Create a civic hub on the existing Municipal Lands;
  • Incorporate arts and culture into all aspects of future improvements (from the choice of signage to the design of buildings, etc.); and
  • Ensure future changes to the downtown are done in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable way.

The Downtown Tofino Vitalization Plan endeavors to take the convergence of community issues and shape them into a series of actionable items that reflect the essence of Tofino, while continuing to build on the areas of sustainability, arts and community values. While the original premise was to focus on locals with the understanding that visitors will likely follow, we feel confident that the ideas and potential projects outline in this document will be of benefit to the local population, part-time residents and visitors alike.

You can stay up to date with the acts of implementation via Downtown Vitalization Committee’s Facebook page.

Linda Allen

(photo of Tofino crosswalk & photo of sidewalk by Mayor Josie Osborne)



District of Tofino

Area of Expertise

Community Planning
Consultation + Engagement