Poole’s Landers soak up happy hostel vibes in the community dining space. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Where would all the workers stay without Poole’s Land?

How this eco-community sustains Tofino’s seasonal staff

Dishwashers, resort staff, district workers, and even an entire kayak guide crew have made Poole’s Land home for the summer.

According to property manager Michael Goodlife, the 17-acre forested lot on Mackenzie Beach Road accommodates anywhere from 50 to 70 transitory workers and travelers a night.

Some live in tents, others have trailers and there are also multiple non-permanent tiny homes dotted throughout the grounds.

“I can’t think of anywhere they would stay, really. There is nowhere they would stay. For a lot of them, the jobs just don’t pay enough to pay rent anywhere,” said Goodlife.

Poole’s Land operates on a sliding scale of donations.

“They might pay $150 or $200 [a month], whatever they can afford and that they feel is fair. Sometimes they leave without ever paying me,” Goodlife said adding that money from donations is put back into infrastructure and other projects, like the new composting toilets and the community kitchen.

Hubert, from Quebec, has been working in Tofino’s surf industry and living in Poole’s Land since March.

“It seems like the only way to me,” he told the Westerly News. “I mean, you could live in the bush if you want that but, if you don’t have a job that gives you staff accom, it’s Poole’s Land. It’s the town staff accom.”

Goodlife pointed out that living in the bush is neither legal nor safe.

“You have to hide your stuff. Literally nothing has been stolen here all summer. Not even a phone cord,” he affirms.

Goodlife, who holds two degrees from UBC—International Relations and English Literature—said he has a sound working-relationship with the local RCMP and District.

In the past, he said, Poole’s Land was out of control and known as the place in town where folks could go to buy drugs.

“It’s very much cleared up,” he said. “You can’t walk around this property asking people for drugs.”

He encouraged locals to reiterate that fact.

“Quit telling people to come here and get drugs. You can’t get them here. Tell them it’s a community. It’s like a little village.”

Poole’s Land has several mandates, he explained.

The village is committed to recycling and buying local ingredients for their daily community meals. They have a mandate to provide a safe and empowering habitat for women and they also have a mandate to protect people from compromised backgrounds.

“There are people here with mental health issues and we deal with it as a community. We have people who act as advocates for them, people with experience,” Goodlife said.

Again, he stated their drug policy.

“We have a mandate to make sure people are safe and an integral part of that is to make sure there is no drugs,” he said. “We don’t allow any heavy drug use of any kind. I’ve removed three different people that I’ve caught with cocaine on this land this summer alone.”

As the seasonal crowds wane and helping hands are let go, Poole’s Land dips to a community of about 20 or so residents. Most will migrate south towards warmer waters, with every good intention of returning to Tofino once the rain recedes. Hubert will go traveling, but hopes to return.

“I see this as having my home base,” he said. “I’ll come back here. Get out for the worst of the winter and then come back and you know, have something that’s evolving rather than coming back with nothing, broke.”

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