At least one Tofino councillor is urging the district’s seasonal bylaw enforcement team to crack that whip.
The District of Tofino’s municipal council reviewed the bylaw program’s mid-season report last week and Coun. Ray Thorogood was disappointed to see no fines dished out to illegal campers.
The report outlined the seasonal bylaw crew discovered140 camping infractions and gave out 53 verbal warnings and 77 written warnings but no actual fines.
Similarly, 590 alcohol contraventions were discovered with 582 verbal warnings and eight written warning issued -but again, no fines.
In contrast, 474 parking infractions were discovered and 118 fines were issued.
These 118 parking tickets were the only fines given out by bylaw enforcement officers during the report’s May 18-July 12 window.
“You’re trying to get compliance so you really are trying to avoid tickets because if you start with a ticket then where do you go,” said the district’s manager of corporate services, Jane Armstrong, who oversees the seasonal bylaw program She said Tofino’s summer tourists are often unaware of local laws and need to be brought up to speed before tickets are issued.
Armstrong also noted the numbers council was reviewing only covered May 18-July 12.
“Since that time we’ve been giving out more tickets to people that are camping,” she said. “I think we are dealing now, at this point in the season, with some individuals
that are perhaps a bit more entrenched.”
The seasonal bylaw enforcement program runs from May 12 to September 12.
Thorogood noted the only tickets issued were for parking violations where “the bylaw officer is not dealing with an individual but dealing with an inanimate object,” and urged stricter enforcement on individuals.
“We have not done, in my opinion, an effective enforcement and punishment of the violations for camping…I was disappointed not to see any tickets except for parked vehicles, that just doesn’t cut it,” he said.
“I’m not saying everybody has to be ticketed but I was really surprised that we issued tickets to parked cars…but nothing to
the campers and those are the ones I feel that are affecting our community.”
He blamed “entrenched campers” staying in forested areas for what he believes has been a rise in thefts this summer.
“I can understand somebody wanting to come here and camp on the beach…but if they’re entrenched in the bushes, these are not the people that I want to see in my community and I would like to see more enforcement in that respect,” he said.
Coun. Dorothy Baert agreed that entrenched campers are an issue but suggested Tofino must make room for tight-budgeted tourists.
“When you want to remove people who are generally youth travelers, traveling
with their backpacks and camping and budgeting and so forth, you need a place for them to go,” she said. “We have, as a community, not addressed that.” Thorogood doubted Tofino’s illegal campers could be converted into pay-to-stayers.
“I am confident that most of the people our bylaw staff is encountering with illegal camping are not going to want to pay for anything even if a facility was there,” he said.
“We have always (since the) late 60’s and 70’s, always attracted a different breed of individuals and they’re not always healthy for the community.”
Armstrong said campers are
being moved out of public areas but some offending tents are being pitched on private property where the municipality has no jurisdiction.
“We have very little authority in fact no authority to seize items that are on private property, so we have to work with police to bring it to the property owner’s attention,” she said.
She said the safety of bylaw officers is an area of concern and added officers often patrol areas without cell-phone coverage.
“They have encountered certainly verbal abuse and also physical abuse,” she said.
Thorogood responded, “I would think that verbal abuse comes with the job.”
Tofino Mayor Joie Osborne suggested the discussion would continue when the seasonal program’s year-end report comes in after it wraps up in September.
Osborne added the Tofino RCMP is set to receive a new detachment commander who should be brought up to speed on the district’s concerns.
Report to District of Tofino Council on seasonal bylaw crew:
Between May 18-July 12, 140 camping infractions resulted in 53 verbal warnings, 77 written warnings -no fines.
590 alcohol contraventions yielded 582 verbal warnings and 8 written warnings -no fines.
474 parking infractions were discovered, 118 fines were issued.