Tofino cracking down on litter, illegal camping

The District of Tofino says it shares “the community’s frustration” over an apparent increase in littering and illegal camping amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and has promised to crack down on bylaw infractions.

The coastal community says there has been an “unprecedented number” of problems largely related to an increase in tourism since B.C. launched Phase 3 of its restart plan.

Incidents like illegal camping, illegal parking, littering and other activities that show a disregard of the environment have been seen, say district staff.

“Instead of having a quiet summer, when the restart program was announced (Phase 3), we went from unusually quiet to a huge influx of tourists and a corresponding increase in problems we have not seen to this degree in the past,” said the district in a release Friday.

Meanwhile, a municipal staff shortage has made it difficult for the district to keep on top of bylaw enforcement.

“One of our two full-time bylaw officers also resigned in June, leaving us understaffed just when we were suddenly faced with an influx of visitors,” said the district.

Tofino council says the district has since hired one new bylaw officer and is looking to hire more. In the meantime, current bylaw staff are “working overtime” to help combat excessive amounts of garbage and litter found on beaches and other parts of the community.

The district adds that bylaw staff have run into issues with managing “disrespectful” visitors in the community.

People in the community are encouraged to report bylaw infractions to the city at 250-266-1674 or email bylaw@tofino.ca.

The district cautions against confronting people who may be breaking bylaws, however.

Moving forward, the municipality says that it will increase communication with visitors about local bylaws and is looking to develop management plans with other organizations like Parks Canada, Wildlife BC, the RCMP and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and Tribal Parks.

Some new bylaw enforcement measures have already come into effect. In July, Tofino stopped issuing warnings and directed bylaw staff to immediately hand out tickets if they see bylaw infractions, like littering, illegal parking and illegal camping.

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