Tofino has bestowed its first Volunteer Recognition Award of 2016.
Longtime West Coaster Barry Campbell received the honour in Tofino’s council chambers on June 28.
The 69 year-old Tofino local moved to the West Coast in 1970 and worked with the Pacific Rim National Park until retiring in 2002. Since his retirement, Campbell has dedicated his time to tackling invasive species like scotch broom, dune grass and English ivy throughout the West Coast.
“What I really liked about the nomination for Barry Campbell and his volunteer service in the district of Tofino and the Pacific Rim National Park, was the way his definition of retirement and spare time is defined as ridding this peninsula, especially [the Park], from invasive plants,” said Tofino mayor Josie Osborne during the award’s announcement.
“Barry has also been a very strong supporter of the area’s cultural heritage as well as our natural heritage and has dedicated many hours to Monks Point and to the Tofino Clayoquot Heritage Society for which we are very grateful.”
Tofino’s Volunteer Recognition Awards were launched in 2013 as a way to promote volunteerism and laud locals whose dedicated, tireless and often unheralded efforts have bettered and beautified their community
Nominations are reviewed by the Tofino Volunteer Recognition Committee, which is comprised of three council members and three members of the public.
“Your nominator had some very incredible words to say and the committee really enjoyed reading the nomination and discussing it,” Osborne said to Campbell before reading a passage from his nominator’s letter.
“In the words of your nominator: ‘Barry Campbell is a role model as a steward for our beloved natural land. He inspires others through his humble and selfless practice of physically labouring to remove harmful plants.’”
Osborne expressed agreement with the letter’s sentiment.
“It’s your humility and that humbleness Barry that really exemplifies what being a volunteer is all about,” she said.
Speaking to the Westerly on Saturday evening, Campbell said he was surprised and honoured to receive the award.
“I’ll treasure it forever,” he said.
He estimated he spends roughly 200 days a year pulling invasive species out of the ground and had been hard at work removing unwelcome plants from Radar Hill earlier that day.
“It has to be done because, if you leave just one plant that flowers and drops seeds, you’ll get a whole bunch more plants and it will never end,” he said.
“I never felt it was that important that I would get a special recognition or reward from it. That was definitely a surprise.”
Campbell has been pleased to see the fruits of his efforts at Radar Hill and said native vegetation is finally starting to return to sites once overrun by scotch broom.
He added he first became aware of the disastrous effects invasive species were having on local plant species when he noticed dune grass cramming the Wickanninish Sand Dunes.
“It totally took over particular areas and it was really, really, thick and lush,” he said.
“I just knew it wasn’t natural and that there’s all kinds of native species that would be there if it wasn’t for the broom.”