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)

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.

A temporary permit that has allowed Tofino residents to live at Crab Apple Campground is set to expire in October, leaving roughly 50 locals in fear of losing their homes.

Campground residents held signs at Tofino’s Village Green on April 13 in the hopes of generating support and a petition was launched raising over 1,700 signatures by presstime calling for the campground to continue as a residential area.

During Tofino’s April 13 regular council meeting, three residents pled with council to let them keep their homes.

Maddy Bolt said she has lived in Tofino for six months, loves her job and loves living at Crab Apple.

“Crab Apple really, I feel, is the true spirit of Tofino. I’ve been welcomed here with open arms. It’s a diverse community that I feel is kind of what Tofino started as and I feel really proud to say that I live here,” she said.

She said she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in Tofino, even if other options were available and added that the projected costs to live in affordable housing projects currently being constructed fall outside the range of what most current Crab Apple residents could afford.

The Tofino Housing Corporation has estimated its affordable housing units are projected to run between $875-$1,725 per month.

“Even those of us on well-paid salaried positions would be unable to budget for this type of affordability. This is something I’m not sure people who own property can sympathize with, perhaps empathize for sure, but sympathize is a different story,’ Bolt said.

READ MORE: Affordable housing project underway in Tofino

She said that she is privileged to have a job she loves, but added she would be unable to pay more than $640 per month to live in Tofino.

She suggested finding alternative affordable housing for Crab Apple’s roughly 50 residents would likely cost an “exorbitant amount of money” and questioned why the district would not keep what’s already in place.

“If we were to shut down Crab and then put all this money into making affordable housing, wouldn’t we be replacing something we already have now?” she asked.

Along with the three residents who spoke during the public input portion of the meeting, at least two more had also signed up to speak, but the allotted time ran out. Coun. Britt Chalmers suggested if there were any speakers with a different perspective, council should hear them, but both remaining speakers suggested they were in favour of the campground so council voted to move ahead with the agenda.

The concerns seem to have been spurred by an application the district received from the campground’s owner that would have allowed Crab Apple to operate as a tourist commercial accommodation, which it is currently prohibited from doing.

Crab Apple received two temporary use permits to operate a residential campground for people living and working in Tofino with a prohibition on any tourism use in 2016 and 2018.

READ MORE: Tofino legalizes illegal campground

Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers said Crab Apple’s current rates for residents are believed to be between $450-$800, which includes access to shared facilities.

He noted that a key condition of both TUPs was that the campground would only be available to residents working in Tofino with a minimum stay of 30 consecutive days and no spots available for visitors.

“It was developed to be an affordable housing option for Tofino in the short term in the midst of a significant housing crisis which has only, as we all know, gotten worse over the years,” Rodgers said.

He added that the current permit will expire this October and the district is prohibited by the Local Government Act to renew a TUP more than twice, which means the campground in its current form is in flux and the issue has become “a source of much anxiety in the community.”

He suggested the campground’s application to the district was entirely based on allowing short term spots for tourists and did not include residential sites.

“The proposal as it stands today would rezone the current lot to allow the development of a commercial campground as well as commercial retail space,” he said. “The proposal is a commercial accommodation use, full stop.”

READ MORE: Housing proposal highlights capacity concerns in Tofino

He noted Tofino’s recently updated Official Community Plan supports the development of affordable housing options, but limits the addition of any new tourism accommodations.

He said district staff would want a housing agreement that would allow the campground to operate similar to how it has under its temporary use permits, but suggested “the applicant has indicated that they would prefer not to enter into a housing agreement.”

The commercial aspect of the application made it a non-starter for both district staff, who recommended the application be denied, and council, who voted in favour of that recommendation.

Rodgers added that development and rezoning takes roughly two years in Tofino, which means the current temporary use permit that allows residential use of the campground will run out before any type of rezoning would realistically be complete.

“Today will not impact the immediacy of the housing concerns and housing issues that have been raised by the community. There will have to be an alternative action taken if we were to deal with the specific concern of the expiry of that TUP,” he said adding the applicant could pursue a modified temporary use permit to extend the campground’s current residential use.

Coun. Duncan McMaster asked about a timeline for when council could expect a more resident-focused application to arrive and Rodgers reiterated it would be unrealistic to expect a permanent solution to be found before the temporary use permit runs out in October.

“I don’t think that I can commit to having this rezoning wrapped up within the next six months,” Rodgers said. “We’re going to be facing some significant staff shortages for the next six months in the planning department as is and unless this is made the ultimate priority, I don’t see that happening and again, at least half that conversation would be on the applicant’s willingness to have that conversation.”

This sparked a lengthy conversation from council around processes to work with the applicant to keep the campground’s residential component while denying the application to allow for tourist commercial use.

Council appeared unanimously opposed to the tourism-use with several calling the commercial nature of the application a “deal breaker,” although they also appeared hesitant to lose the site’s residential aspect.

“If the applicant has no interest in a housing agreement, I would have no hesitation in denying this right now,” said Coun. Duncan McMaster.

READ MORE: Tofino council approves controversial rezoning that paves way for affordable housing project

Coun. Tom Stere noted that council could not negotiate the application themselves as the applicant would have to request some sort of renewal of the residential permit.

Coun Britt Chalmers made a motion to direct staff to work with the applicant on a revised application to be brought back to council with the understanding that a commercial campground would not be supported, but there is interest in a continued residential use.

Stere seconded Chalmers’ motion, but Coun. Cathy Thicke and McMaster strongly opposed such a move.

“I really can’t live with that,” Thicke said. “I do not feel comfortable voting on this motion without it written in front of me.”

McMaster agreed.

“I don’t like the way we’ve just been doing this on the fly. I think we’re almost there, but I won’t be supporting it as it is at the moment.”

Thicke suggested council deny the application and then “cross the next bridge” when it comes up.

Coun. Jacky Challenger agreed.

“My preference would be to deny this application and have the applicant come forward later with something new,” she said.

Chalmers and Stere were the only votes in favour of directing staff to work with the applicant on a revised application and were outnumbered by Mayor Dan Law, Thicke, McMaster and Challenger who voted to deny the application.

“I agree completely with not making these types of motions on the fly, but I still have grave concerns about what denying this will mean in terms of the residents of Crab Apple,” Stere said.



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino housing project criticized at public hearing

READ MORE: Tofino receives $3.6M for affordable housing project

READ MORE: Fines bring an end to Tofino’s controversial Poole’s Land community

affordable housingCampingmunicipal politicsTofino,

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

Just Posted

The District of Ucluelet is fast-tracking temporary use permits for RVs/campervans as seasonal housing. (Westerly file photo)
Ucluelet reviews 11 applications for RVs as seasonal housing

“Housing is so essential to everyone, and an issue that cases a lot of stress to business owners.”

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht public works dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Hotel Zed Tofino. (Westerly file photo)
Two Tofino businesses up for building awards

14th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Black bear tranquillized, relocated after wandering around residential Ladysmith

A juvenile black bear was spotted near 2nd Avenue earlier Friday morning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read