The view of Cox Bay Beach from the Maltby Road entrance, any given day in August. (Nora O’Malley photo)

The view of Cox Bay Beach from the Maltby Road entrance, any given day in August. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Disgruntled Tofino residents say visitors turning town into a free-for-all

Some West Coast residents angered by perceived lack of bylaw enforcement

Tofino’s flow of summer visitors is running full-tilt, and some locals are questioning district staff, Mayor Josie Osborne and town council for not adequately enforcing municipal bylaws.

Some travellers to Canada’s surf capital are leaving a trail of garbage in their wake, camping illegally in district parks or residential streets, and causing all sorts of traffic congestion issues.

Tofino resident Tammy Shymko submitted a petition on Aug. 18, calling on District of Tofino staff and council to enforce municipal bylaws. More than 230 people had signed the petition at press time.

Shymko believes the lack of bylaw enforcement is impacting the well-being of her community.

RELATED: Tofino and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation release joint statement welcoming ‘respectful’ tourists

RELATED: Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

“Relying on the common sense of the visitor is clearly not working and has not worked in the past, this is an issue that has been ongoing for over a decade with no leadership being taken or changes being implemented,” said Shymko in an email to the Westerly.

Shymko wants to see bylaw officers on duty when the majority of the infractions are taking place.

“Bylaw hours should reflect the influx of visitors weekends and holidays. Thursday to Monday 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. at the very least,” she said.

Tofino chief administration officer Bob MacPherson declined to answer the hours of work for a Tofino bylaw officer. He did note, however, that both bylaw and public works staff are working overtime trying to keep up with the problems.

“From the beginning of Phase 3 in June to Aug. 13, our officers issued 298 tickets. Most were various parking violations, and 63 were camping infractions tickets that carry a $200 fine. When we started to realize the extent of visitation and the problems began to escalate in July, we also moved to tougher enforcement strategies. In mid-July, we stopped giving warnings and increased ticketing,” said MacPherson.

Poole’s Land, the eco-village on Mackenzie Beach Road that used to accommodate up to 80 tenters and van life tourists, permanently closed this summer. Then a bylaw officer quit in July creating a perfect storm of illegal campers overrunning the small coastal haven of about 2,434 residents. What’s more, MacPherson said they are still only operating with two bylaw officers when usually they’d have four in place over summer.

“The District planned our summer resource levels for this year in late March and early April. At that time, we were hearing that visitation levels would be very low, that people’s incomes would be very negatively affected by Covid-19 and that our residents wanted property taxes to be minimized,” he said.

“In responding to this, we chose to reduce our enforcement and other resources for the season, which included not engaging an RCMP Reservist to help with higher-risk enforcement priorities such as beach fires.“


A surfer changes on the side of the Pacific Rim Highway near the Cox Bay Beach entrance. (Nora O’Malley photo)

“Dangerous and illegal parking around beach access points, residential roads around beach locations, the downtown of Tofino, and along Highway 4 by Cox Bay Beach Resort” is contributing to public safety concerns, notes the Tofino Bylaw petition.

In 2018, the District of Tofino expanded parking capacity at the end of Maltby Road, creating approximately 28 new public parking spaces. MacPherson said the district is not permitted to intervene or take on liability in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure right of way.

“We are in constant communication with the Ministry about parking and safety issues along the highway at this and other locations. Thankfully, as of [Aug.18], I can report that the Ministry has installed no-parking signage along the southbound right-hand turn lane, and the District is looking at parking design solutions at Maltby to address the safe access to Cox Bay,” he said.

Many of Tofino’s problems are not new, notes MacPherson, but have been amplified this summer with Covid-19.

“It’s clear that managing growth is something that the community is asking for, and something that deserves more consideration in the coming months. We’ll be working with council, our partners, and the community to consider solutions to both the shorter-term issues linked to the global pandemic, as well as longer-term strategies to manage the impacts of visitation,” said MacPherson.

Tofino’s tourism machine generates $240 million annually and boosts municipal, provincial and federal tax revenues by $57 million, according to a 2018 economic impact survey conducted by Tourism Tofino.

Travel to the region also supports 2,670 direct jobs—1,720 full-time equivalent jobs—generating $60 million in annual wages.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CampingGarbageTofino,Tourism

Just Posted

Mona Strelaeff, a Metchosin resident, is the first non-terminally ill person in Canada to be allowed to use psilocybin assisted therapy. (Provided by Spencer Hawkswell)
Island woman’s magic mushroom trauma treatment could be trendsetting

Experts say this could signal the broadening of who can access psilocybin therapy

Grade 3 student Nate Twaddle, who uses a walker for a rare neurological condition, has been zooming along a new accessible walkway since it was installed in early October at Willway Elementary in Langford. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Langford mother thankful for accessible walkway that helps son connect with peers

Rare neurological condition means Grade 3 student uses wheelchair, walker to play

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on B.C. elementary schools ranks schools across the province based on standardized tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Opinion: Fraser Institute delivers elementary schools the usual mixed report card

What we learn doesn’t change, but maybe how we react to it should

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign poppies. This year the fundraising effort was mixed for local legions which have suffered from financial strain due to COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Mixed year for Legions during annual poppy campaign

Some find success, some struggle amidst the pandemic

A 53-unit building to be built at 6010 Hammond Bay Rd. (Murdoch Company Architecture Planning Ltd. image)
Province announces support for more than 60 units of affordable housing in Nanaimo

Building B.C. Community Housing Fund partners with Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Higher cannabis sales grew the income of Canadian farmers

Higher cannabis receipts added $1.7 billion to the revenue of farmers

Trinity Kettyls and Mackenzie Rigg start their 5.4km loop in Gordon Head on Sunday cheered on by members of the Vikes soccer team. Theirs was the last lap of the 270km relay that raised over $67,000 towards the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. (Armando Tura Photo)
Vikes Kick Cancer fundraiser in Saanich surpasses $67,000

Around the world, athletes virtually join Gordon Head relay

Looking Back, by Sheelane Stigant, is in Comox Valley bookstores now. Photo supplied.
84-year-old Comox author pens first novel

Pandemic allows writer to complete a project she began 17 years ago

Most Read