Online angst is spilling onto Tofino’s streets and beaches and it’s not just visitors bearing the brunt of local frustrations.
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne is calling on the community to increase its civility towards tourists and the locals tasked with managing them following multiple reports of vehicles being vandalized in town.
Three vehicles belonging to tourists visiting from the mainland were vandalized on Sept. 10, with tires being slashed and messaging written on windows including, ‘go home.’
“I’m outraged that anyone would vandalize vehicles and write antisocial messages directed at another human being, and I’m so sorry for the owner of the vehicle that experienced Thursday’s incident and anyone else who’s experienced something like this,” Osborne told the Westerly News via email. “There is absolutely no excuse for it. Regardless of your feelings about visitors being in Tofino, there are mature and appropriate ways to express your feelings that do not involve cowardly, vicious, and hurtful actions like these.”
“It is extremely important for all of us to remember that these are actions of one or very few individuals, and they do not represent Tofitians or what our community is all about.”
She said District of Tofino staff members are also being targeted as a vandal slashed a district-owned vehicle’s tire in front of a bylaw enforcement officer on Sept. 12.
“I take the safety of District staff extremely seriously and these incidents have resulted in immediate changes in operations to protect their safety. District staff work on behalf of Tofino to serve all of us and our by-law enforcement staff have some of the most difficult jobs that almost all of the rest of us would never want to do,” Osborne said.
Tofino’s Chief Administrative Officer Bob MacPherson told the Westerly that a bylaw officer was at MacKenzie Beach on a routine patrol when the incident occurred.
“He was near the vehicle and, while he was present, someone slashed a tire and ran off into one of the resort properties…This is a criminal act. It has been handed over to the RCMP for investigation,” MacPherson said. “Attacks on district property and on district staff are not acceptable and those are the kinds of things that we are working with the RCMP to pursue as much as we can.”
He said the bylaw officers and RCMP have increased their presence at local beaches, particularly in regards to beach fires, and he believes the incident was a targeted attack.
“It seems like we have something occurring in our community where people are kind of taking it upon themselves to abuse our employees either for not doing enough or for doing too much.”
MacPherson has been involved with municipal work for roughly 28 years and this summer has brought increasingly inappropriate behaviour.
“Things do feel different and we’re hearing similar things from other folks out here on the Coast as well…More generally, just in the world right now, there’s more discontent and discontent directed at authority. People, certainly online, feel much more validated in attacking anything that’s happening, whether it’s by government or a sports team or anything and that is beginning to spill over into the real world. We’re seeing it a fair bit on this continent right now and it’s getting dangerous.”
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