Opinion

Behest of the West: Welcome tourists, please behave yourselves

We love that you
We love that you've come to share a love of our surroundings, but please respect what's around you when you're here.
— image credit: Andrew Bailey

Well done tourists.

We welcome you and congratulate you for choosing the best festival available.

You had some options on where to throw your travel budget and you could not have picked a more perfect direction to fling it. Pick up a guide. Grab a button. Go to everything. Interacting with our Coast means unwinding out of your cities knots and learning just enough to sound super smart when you’re back home.

You came here to be rejuvenated. Enjoy your restoration.

While we have you here though, let’s talk about some stuff. We want to love you as much as you love our paradise, but love is a two-way street and we’re not your stepping stone.

We appreciate that you’re our biggest fans, help us be yours too.

Street signs are still applicable when you’re on vacation.

It makes no sense that you trap us behind you while traveling our highway with the urgency of a sloth, but then decide to role-play as Steve McQueen between Ukee’s community school zone limits. That zone’s in effect from dusk until dawn, 365 days a year and, I promise, Rosco Coltrane isn’t on your tail here.

If the sign says ‘Stop,’ that’s exactly what it wants you to do. I get you don’t want inanimate objects bossing your vacation around, but those signs have important jobs to do. Let them do it.

The white lines across our roads are crosswalks. They’re what you walk on to cross the road.

Our beaches are not off-leash dog parks.

We want to be laid back about this. We know what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and odds are you’ve seen local dogs running off-leash and assumed it’s all good. I assure you it is not all good.

You’ve arrived to see the grey whale migration and thank you for joining us, but this Coast’s nature bag is chalk-full of marvels and our vibe doesn’t flow to the wave of just one species. We’ve hit the second week of a shorebird season that we won’t wave goodbye to until  August.

There should be a dog ban, but the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s brass still trusts us all to leash our dogs on their beaches. Don’t take advantage of their naivety.

That photo of your dog splashing through the tide as birds flap their wings around it is awesome, totally shareable and will land you all the likes your impressionable Facebook friends can muster. It’s also evidence of the role you played in killing off a vibrant variety of species whose beauty is only matched by their fragility. They’re not so different from you.

They came here to be rejuvenated too and it’s not a cheap trip for them either. What you paid in dollars, they paid in energy, and you both deserve a solid return on investment. Like you, they likely won’t return if they get stressed out while they’re here. Our surroundings are a vital feeding ground for them. Your off-leash dogs make shorebirds panic and move on before they’ve fattened up and rested enough to migrate successfully.

The more that happens, the smaller each next generation gets.

Stop it with the two-fours of bottled water. Why are you so in love with those? Every summer, the Co-op becomes a plastics parade through no fault of its own. I implore you to trust our taps. The theme of the festival you’ve come to enjoy revolves around the damage those plastics are doing. Not just to the whales we’re gathering to celebrate, but all the sea life that regails us with wonder.

If you need to put a face on that, head to the Ucluelet Aquarium this weekend to fall in love with the fascinating critters our harbours host and think about how single-use plastics kill them.

Maybe you brought her with you, or she might even live here already, but don’t expect your mother to clean up after you.

It’s fine to make a mess while cruising our surroundings. Picnics should be had and beach days should include beach toys. Just, please, stop allowing yourselves to forget about  cleaning up the messes you make before leaving.

Everything you bring to our beaches, trails and parks is everything you should be carrying back with you when your adventure ends.

Leave our cool wildlife where it is. Sea stars aren’t companion animals.

Be good Coast-mates and remember, you came here to relax.

 

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