On the scene in Tofino

Tofino sunset
Sunset on Long Beach, Tofino.

A couple weeks ago I’d made plans with a good friend to spend part of the Labour Day weekend in Tofino. It’s a trip I was really looking forward to as I’d never been before and had heard nothing but good things about the fantastic natural beauty of the area. On Tuesday afternoon of last week I got a call from the Clayoquot Field Station, our accomodations for the weekend, to let us know about the water shortage in Tofino. This was shortly before the situation became national news and local businesses had decided to carry on despite the order to close.

We were told to bring water with us, as well as our own linens, and showering and toilet flushing would not be an option. There was also the possibility that most food places would be closed. It was turning into a weekend of “roughing it” and indoor camping but we decided to carry on with our plans anyway. Lucky for us because it was an unseasonally quiet weekend around town and at the beaches in Tofino because so many people had decided to cancel. By Friday, water was being trucked in from nearby Ucluelet to refill the reservoir and the water situation became much less dire by the time we arrived on Friday evening.

We were still asked to conserve water as much as possible, with very short showers, reduced toilet flushing, not cooking food that required a lot of water, and using hand sanitizer in place of soap and water. Though my friend and I had a wonderful weekend the whole experience has made me more conscious of my personal water usage. And perhaps it’s a mistake that we take it for granted as an unlimited resource.

1 Comment so far

  1. Ryan Cousineau (unregistered) on September 4th, 2006 @ 8:24 pm

    The real lesson is that it’s a mistake to have foolish municipal governance and short-sighted citizens.

    Michael Smyth has been covering the background of this story in The Province (pay firewall=no link), but he had a column on Thursday that detailed how a $2 million plan to expand the water reservoir system had been voted down (both in council and in a referendum, if I read the column right). Both times, the idea that water conservation (and, I think, a general anti-development sentiment) would render the expansion unnecessary held sway.

    It turned out the engineers were right, and the town has reaped the harvest of its own folly. On the upside, I guess everyone who didn’t want Tofino to be so touristy just got their way.



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