Born and raised in Tofino, Brad Evans grew up exploring the network of backroads that surround the Kennedy Lake or Haa’uukmin watershed. He currently holds the position of vice president of the Pacific Rim Fish and Game Association (PRFGA), a group of about 125 members dedicated to outdoor recreation and conservation.
When the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) decided to gate the access road to the landfill in 2019, he said PRFGA was one of the few organizations that arranged to have keys to the gate.
“Having that access lost was a real downer. It was frustrating for sure at first,” said Evans, adding that they had some co-ordination troubles and problems with members forgetting to lock the gate.
“I definitely do like the gate now. With time comes change. The gate probably has been a good thing,” he continues.
READ: Ucluelet RCMP increase patrol at Kennedy watershed
Evans said that while he is concerned about the “mind blowing” amount of people flooding the Kennedy watershed this summer, he doesn’t necessarily think adding more gates is the best solution.
“With any gate comes with vandalism,” he said.
West Coast landfill manager Tony Konefall told the Westerly the ACRD locks the access road when the landfill is closed to mitigate illegal dumping.
“It’s all kinds of stuff, abandoned campsites, people leave tents, old campers, they leave everything out there,” said Konefall.
Last year, volunteers did two backroads clean ups within six months of each other.
“Locals helped pick up 7.5 tonnes of garbage each time,” Konefall said. “Most of the locals are very respectful, a lot of the people in from other places leave all their junk behind.”
Konefall thinks policing the Kennedy backroads might be a better solution than gating.
“They will just move up to [another] road. I honestly don’t know how you can manage it. It’s crazy out back there,” he said.
An alternative to gating, notes Evans, would be to upgrade the area with washroom facilities and a canister to dispose of garbage.
“We are lucky to have access to the backroad. It’s a privilege. [Losing] that would be taking away a lot of the rights for the local people. I’m upset to see there is a gate put up to access some of that land. It’s being abused. Is another gate going to solve the issue?” Evans said.
In the province of British Columbia, Canadians and non-Canadians may camp on designated Crown land for up to 14 consecutive calendar days.
“That does not give a green light for the desecration of sacred sites or the pollution of the environment. If we can’t de-activate the road and have it properly managed, we wouldn’t have improved it from the beginning,” said Saya Masso, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN) Tribal administrator.
“We gotta keep this area clean. It’s a beautiful place and we want to keep it beautiful for many generations. Let’s try our best to keep it clean,” he adds.
Masso said TFN is working with BC Parks and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development (FLNRORD) to find a solution to better manage the Kennedy watershed backroads, and perhaps bring it to day use or even gate one of the central access points.
Kennedy or Haa’uukmin Lake watershed is within the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN) Tribal Park. Areas of Kennedy are also considered Crown land, ACRD jurisdiction, BC Parks, and an active worksite for Mosaic Forest Management.
A message to Mosaic was not returned by presstime.
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READ: Illegal dumping a bane on Ucluelet’s backroads