The Pacific Rim Whale Festival has been postponed. (Westerly file photo)

Pacific Rim Whale Festival postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic

The event was set to return to Tofino-Ucluelet this month.

The Pacific Rim Whale Festival has been postponed.

The event was set to make its return to Tofino and Ucluelet this month after taking a year off in 2019, however ongoing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted festival organizers to postpone this year’s event.

READ MORE: Pacific Rim Whale Festival set for triumphant return in Tofino-Ucluelet

“While we feel that the Districts of Ucluelet and Tofino are currently safe zones we would not want this status to change. So, with heavy hearts, we feel it is our responsibility to postpone The Pacific Rim Whale Festival for March 2020. At this time all scheduled events have been cancelled,” read an announcement posted to the Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s Facebook page Friday afternoon.

The announcement comes a day after the province announced a ban on all events with more than 250 people in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: COVID-19: Province bans large gatherings in B.C.

The festival’s postponement includes Ucluelet’s Chowder Chow Down competition, which was expected to be hosted by the Rotary Club of Ucluelet for the first time this year.

“The Rotary Club of Ucluelet has postponed the PRWF Chowder Chow Down due to Covid-19. We are following instructions from the B.C. Provincial Government banning events with over 250 attendees. We are grateful for all the support and generosity from particpants, volunteers and everyone involved but want to make the best decision for the safety of our community,” read a statement sent to the Westerly by the club’s president-elect Jeff Anderson.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s Chowder Chow Down winners announced in Ucluelet

No cases have been confirmed in the West Coast region as of Friday, though district officials in both towns are taking proactive steps to address public safety. During their March 10 regular council meeting, Tofino’s municipal council approved setting aside $20,000 from the district’s Financial Stability Reserve Fund for “expenditures relating to the response to COVID-19” and also announced a COVID-19 response plan.

“As the District of Tofino has done during past large-scale public health emergencies (ex. H1N1), staff have developed this response plan to strengthen preparedness at the local level for COVID-19,” read a report presented to council by emergency program coordinator Keith Orchiston. “The District of Tofino COVID-19 Response Plan supports the strategy of Island Health while accommodating the circumstances of the District of Tofino. Where possible, activities will align with regional, provincial, national and World Health Organization guidelines.”

READ MORE: B.C. recommends no travel outside Canada in coronavirus pandemic

Orchiston explained the district is currently in Stage 2 of the plan, which means public facilities like the Tofino Community Hall remain open, though communication efforts have been heightened to increase local awareness. The district recently launched a blog on its website laying out COVID-19 information for residents.

Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers told the Westerly News on Friday afternoon that the district’s recreational programs are still running, but staff are monitoring the situation.

“It’s super fluid situation at this point and we’re just trying to move forward with the best information we’re being given and following the advice of health officials,” he said. “We’re keeping a close eye on it and as a district we’re going to be meeting about it again on Monday morning to see where we are after the weekend…We haven’t cancelled anything yet, it is under consideration and we’re monitoring the situation.”

READ MORE: Do you think you have COVID-19? Here is what to do next

Ucluelet’s Forest Glen seniors’ home has announced all events scheduled for March have been cancelled.

“This is in no way a panic notice nor do we have any reason to believe that it exists in our environment. The decision was made through much research within our governing agencies, that discuss the vulnerability of seniors living facilities, that this decision has been made,” wrote Forest Glen’s administrative coordinator Cathy Whitcomb in the announcement. “Large gatherings are one of the topics that come up in most of the correspondence and information. Although our gatherings range from 10 people in the smaller events to 50-plus in our luncheons, it is our intention to protect everyone in the most effective ways we can.”

The West Coast Winter Music Society announced on Friday that a March 21 Sonic Escape concert has been cancelled.

This story is being updated



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Baby boy among the latest COVID-19 cases, as Canadian cases rise to almost 150

READ MORE: Take COVID-19 seriously, says B.C. doctor

READ MORE: More daily COVID-19 cases reported now than during worst of China’s outbreak: WHO

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

Just Posted

Missing mushroom picker found “alive and well” after three-day search in Ucluelet

“It’s always great to have a positive outcome like this.”

Ucluelet mayor criticizes province’s lack of communication as highway closures resume

Daily closures return to only highway in and out of Tofino-Ucluelet

HISTORY COLUMN: Reflecting on the 32nd anniversary of Canada’s apology to Japanese-Canadians

Japanese-Canadians an integral part of Tofino and Ucluelet’s history.

Tofino-Ucluelet region rallies around injured five-month-old puppy

A Hitacu puppy is home and healing after being struck by a vehicle in Hitacu

Storm season expected to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on Tuesday

Environment Canada has issued a storm warning for the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read