Locals helping RCMP crack down on illegal camping

Ucluelet is not a campground and police are reminding tourists not to use it as one.

Sgt. Jeff Swann said he responded to, and fined, two groups of tourists who had turned empty lots on Odyssey Lane into an illegal campsite on July 4. “People come to town and the campgrounds are full or they don’t plan well enough or they don’t want to pay for camping and they just camp anywhere,” Swann said.

“A lot of people are respectful, they pick up after themselves and you would never know they were there however it’s that 10 per cent factor of people that are not respectful and do leave a mess and that’s why there’s zero camping in town.”

He said Ucluelet will always be prone to incoming illegal campers but police are becoming more able to take the issue on thanks to reports coming in from community members.

“The public thankfully is calling it in more,” he said. “We’ve gotten to a point in this community where people are really starting to feel comfortable calling the police and we want that trend to continue.”

Police work to cut down summer traffic jams

The West Coast’s tourism economy relies on a steady diet of incoming traffic but slow drivers are clogging the arteries that connect our communities. Campers and RV’s strain through the West Coast’s highways like molasses through cheesecloth and this puts a strain on local temperaments.

Drivers caught behind slow moving vehicles are susceptible to road rage and may become too frustrated to wait for a safe spot to pass before attempting to blow by the RV in front of them, according to Sgt. Jeff Swann of the Ucluelet RCMP.

“Driving too fast is obviously always a concern but driving too slow is also a concern because people in behind get impatient and when they’re impatient they’re not thinking clearly and they make silly decisions,” he said.

“If there’s five or more vehicles behind you, you must pullover.”

New messaging on both sides of Highway 4 between Port Alberni and the West Coast junction remind drivers to pull over if they’re impeding traffic and Swann said drivers who fail to pull over on their own will be pulled over by police.

“If you’re driving too slow and you’re obstructing traffic you need to pullover,” he said adding drivers caught traveling too slowly face a $109 fine.

He noted both Highway 4 and the Pacific Rim Highway provide little passing room for drivers stuck behind slow vehicles and said his detachment has received three complaints regarding slow vehicles in the past week.

Along with slowed traffic, the West Coast is often hit with stopped traffic when tourists hit the brakes to check out a bear or other wildlife near the roadway and Swann urges drivers to pull over before taking in the sights or snapping nature shots.

He said police are working on educating drivers about the dangers of causing a bear related traffic jam.

Public asked to limit false alarms

Ucluelet police are exhausting themselves rushing to false alarms and businesses are being asked to limit the amount of false alarms police are responding to.

“As long as people are doing their best that’s all that we ask,” said Sgt. Jeff Swann.

The Ucluelet detachment was hit with four false alarms within 24 hours on July 1-2, according to Swann.

“They do take some of our resources up,” he said. “Members have to put everything else on hold and go to these calls.”

He said false alarms can be prevented by business owners making sure their doors are locked at closing and employees know the alarm code.

Unlocked doors are a key source of false alarms in Ucluelet as people are walking into unlocked businesses before discovering the business is closed.

“They’ll notice no one is there and they’ll close the door but the alarm is already going off,” Swann said.

reporter@westerlynews.ca