Rachel Sutton looks out over Cox Bay on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. The Tofino resident and vacation rental operator is raising the idea of bringing a nude beach to the community. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Tofino woman beseeches town for nude beach

“They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

A Tofino resident is laying bare her desire to see the community adopt a nude beach.

“We’ve become a major tourist destination and a nude beach is inclusive and allows people to be free while they’re on vacation and it allows people who are local to feel that they can gear down comfortably without such a moral compass on their bodies,” Rachel Sutton told the Westerly News. “The ethos of Tofino and Ucluelet and the West Coast is fairly irreverent and we are a population who value uniqueness and doing things in a creative and spontaneous manner…They may enjoy a surf and then walk around naked and just be free.”

People of all genders are permitted to be topless in B.C., but full nudity is illegal on public lands. However, the province does offer an assortment of nude beaches. NaturistDirectory.com, a website that promotes destinations to travellers looking for clothing-optional opportunities, lists Vancouver’s Wreck Beach, Nelson’s Red Sands Beach, Hornby Island’s Little Tribune Bay and Crescent Rock’s Naturalist Beach as its top four B.C. beaches.

Sutton said Tofino is an accepting and inclusive area and is “certainly” the type of community that could embrace a nude beach.

“We have a fresh migration of people to this area in the last three to five years who are forward thinking,” she said. “I think also, universally, we’re seeing some more archaic viewpoints go the way of the charming antiquity and we are stepping forward in a resurgence of the kind of energy we saw in the ’70s. We’re facing worldwide wars, we’re facing famines and droughts, we’re facing bigger issues to do with gun control and questionable politicking in our country as well as our neighbours to the south and this is an irreverent, light spark of joy that could be a pleasant dinner conversation.”

She said promoting body positivity is important and added that a nude beach could add to Tofino’s allure to visitors.

“I’m looking at it as, ‘Hey, you can come out here and you can go skydiving and you can take a yoga class and you can paddle around at the beach and you can jump in the ocean and, if you want to, you can get naked,’” she said.

“I love the idea that we could just gear down and not have to feel a lot of shame, blame or guilt about our bodies. We could just say, ‘Well this is how I arrived.’ We all came into the world naked and why should we feel ashamed? Scars or birthmarks or body hair or anything, why should we feel ashamed? Why can’t we be proud? And, the little kiss of sun that we get in our otherwise blustering, quite chilly world out here is a blessing, why not celebrate that?”

Sutton first posted the idea on a community Facebook page and said it sparked discussion.

“People seemed to be upset about all kinds of pernickety things. I felt that I’d put my two cents worth in, almost a little tongue in cheek,” she said. “I guess I’m bringing to mind a lot of different feelings about how we feel about our bodies, which I don’t think is so bad… It seems to be a valuable conversation.”

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne told the Westerly News that she is not opposed to the idea of a nude beach, but said it would likely be more of an informal agreement than an official designation.

“I don’t have any moral objections to the idea. I just think it’s something that needs to be discussed well with the community and if something was going to go in that direction, be it formal or informal, that everyone is respected for their feelings on it so it’s kind of obvious where it is and if people choose not to go there then they choose not to go there,” she said. “I don’t think anything needs to be flaunted. It’s just ‘do what you do.’”

READ MORE: VIDEO: Vancouver Island’s Long Beach named one of world’s best

READ MORE: Complaint about “excessive nudity” in change rooms

READ MORE: Tourist claims Tofino’s beaches have ‘gone to the dogs’



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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