Magnus MacKenzie, Verin Mapstone and Jon MacKenzie surround Atleo Air owner Jason Bertin and happilly hand him an $800 cheque they raised from an online community fundraising initiative in support of Atleo Air’s recent firefighting heroics. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Magnus MacKenzie, Verin Mapstone and Jon MacKenzie surround Atleo Air owner Jason Bertin and happilly hand him an $800 cheque they raised from an online community fundraising initiative in support of Atleo Air’s recent firefighting heroics. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino douses Atleo Air heroes with support

“It’s very touching, it actually even brought a tear to my eye when I heard this was all happening.”

Jason Bertin is feeling Tofino’s love after a fundraiser posted online to help pay his helicopter company back for heroically extinguishing a remote wildfire last month took less than 36 hours to exceed its goal.

As was reported in the Westerly News, Bertin and Atleo Air helicopter pilot Antony Dickinson were alerted to a brush fire near Bulson River and immediately sprang into action, dousing the flames with buckets of water attached to their aircraft by a cable.

READ MORE: Atleo Air pilot douses brush fire near Tofino

After hearing of Atleo Air’s heroics, Jon MacKenzie and Verin Mapstone launched a GoFundMe campaign on July 10 and were delighted to present Bertin, the company’s owner, with an $800 cheque on July 18.

“This is a very small community and, while we have lots of tourists come through every year, it is the small business owners and community people who live here year-round who are the backbone of this place and, if we don’t support each other, then what do we have? We’re very remote. We need to look after each other and we all need to help out when it’s needed,” Mapstone told the Westerly News adding the fundraiser flew past its $700 goal quickly.

“I’m extremely proud of my community. Even in the face of having such a big tourism industry and a lot of issues here in this small town with housing and other things; it’s nice to see that when the need arose, people stepped up and gave what they could.”

MacKenzie and Mapstone own and operate local bookkeeping and web development company Tough Books and Business and MacKenzie said they understand how hard it can be for Tofino business owners to cover unexpected expenses during the summer.

“For Jason to be doing this out of his own pocket is a really big deal for his business, it’s a big hit. So, as a community, we feel like we ought to support him and as a community Tofino rose up and absolutely did. We met our goal and exceeded it,” he said.

He added that he plans to petition Tofino’s municipal council and the provincial government to develop a trust that would help fund firefighting activities around the West Coast’s remote forest areas.

“We’ve got one of the driest summers on record this year and we’re expecting it to continue to be dry,” he said. We as a community need to put ourselves in a position where we are able to meet the need so far away from any kind of government forest fire fighting abilities.”

READ MORE: Conditions ‘very dry’ across Vancouver Island despite rainfall

Bertin told the Westerly News that operating helicopters is costly as maintenance, fuel and insurance bills add up.

“It’s an expensive beast to run, but they are so capable of doing a variety of roles on the coast here and we love them,” he said adding he was heartened to see his community step up to support him through MacKenzie and Mapstone’s fundraising efforts.

“It’s very touching, it actually even brought a tear to my eye when I heard this was all happening and these guys put this together…It’s a busy time of year for us and for other businesses and individuals in Tofino to take a little time out, contribute and throw some of the costs back to us for that operation is heartwarming. It means a lot.”

He added the town’s generosity was another of a long list of experiences that have kept his love of Tofino strong.

“I’m so stoked to be here. This is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. I came here on vacation 20 years ago and haven’t left,” he said adding rising to the occasion and putting out the growing wildfire was instinctual. “We just couldn’t let something burn in a beautiful spot…We’re really connected to that valley, which is one of the few pristine valleys in Clayoquot Sound and we just didn’t want to see anything happen to that spot.”

READ MORE: North Island communities plan for wildfires amid mounting anxiety



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

Residents and supporters of Tofino’s Crab Apple Campground gathered at the Village Green on April 13 to draw attention to their concerns over losing their homes. The campground’s temporary use permit, which allows it to offer sites to Tofino residents, expires in October. The town’s council rejected an application that same day that would have permitted the campground to operate as a tourist commercial accommodation. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Crab Apple residents fear losing their homes as campground’s permit running out in Tofino

Council rejects application to allow campground to operate as tourist accommodation.

The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road in Ucluelet. (Nora O’Malley photo)
The entrance to the Lodge Property on Reef Point Road in Ucluelet. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet council approves the Lodge Property application

The decision changes the land use designation from Residential to Tourist Commercial

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five Nuu-chah-nulth Nations celebrate legal victory in fishing dispute

Ha’oom Fisheries Society and T’aaq-wiihak Fisheries announce “major legal victory”

Polystyrene has been outlawed as a take-out option for restaurants in Tofino and Ucluelet. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tofino and Ucluelet ban polystyrene take-out containers

Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter manager Lilly Woodbury touted the new ban as “definitely terrific news”

A lone traveler enters the Calgary Airport in Calgary, Alta., Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
VIDEO: Trudeau defends Canada’s travel restrictions as effective but open to doing more

Trudeau said quarantine hotels for international air travellers will continue until at least May 21

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Suspension of Barney Williams would be reversed if he complies with certain terms

A man pauses at a coffin after carrying it during a memorial march to remember victims of overdose deaths in Vancouver. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. announces historic half-billion-dollar funding for overdose crisis, mental health

Of it, $152 million will be used to address the opioid crisis and see the creation of 195 new substance use treatment beds

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a CEFA (Core Education and Fine Arts) Early Learning daycare franchise, in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. budget to expand $10-a-day child care, but misses the mark on ‘truly universal’ system

$111 million will be used to fund 3,750 new $10-a-day spaces though 75 additional ChildCareBC universal prototype sites over the next three years.

Most Read