Tofino celebrated the opening of two community-health boosting amenities last Thursday as a Tonquin Trail extension and Community Hall expansion were unveiled.
The trail addition was a collaboration between Tofino and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and, during the opening celebration, Tla-o-qui-aht member Corinne Martin explained the Nation was not excited about the idea at the start.
“The district had intentions of connecting the trail from the second beach to the middle beach and asked the Nation for permission,” she said. “Initially the Nation said, ‘No. These are very sacred sites that are located between second beach and middle beach.’ However, the Nation was willing to work collaboratively with the district in the spirit of co-creating community development in the region.”
She said the Nation’s willingness came with the caveat of steering away from sacred sites and creating signage representing Tla-o-qui-aht territory, culture and knowledge.
“Our work on the trail consisted of cleaning out vegetation and small trees where necessary but our crew tried to keep the tree removal to a bare minimum,” she said adding the collaboration between the two communities was important in “showing that both partners are willing to do what it takes to pursue community development that is respectful and inclusive of all the people in the region.”
Tofino mayor Josie Osborne said she hopes to see similar collaborations in the future.
“I really hope there are way more events where we do openings and blessings in Tofino where we have this kind of partnership between Tla-o-qui-aht and Tofino,” she said. “This is a very good sign. This makes me feel really good to be a part of this and to look out and see everybody here today. I look forward to more of this.”
She also thanked Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks for their “incredible vision” and the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, which helped fund the interpretative signage.
After the trail opening, the celebration moved down the parking lot to the Tofino Community Hall, where a new, roughly 1,300 sq. ft. expansion was unveiled. Tofino’s manager of community sustainability said the hall’s roughly $530,000 addition includes a new activity room, foyer and much needed new storage space and he was delighted to see so many locals attend the unveiling.
“It’s great to see people come out and see the space their tax dollars have gone towards and it’s great to see how many kids have come out,” he said. “These kids are going to grow up here over the next, hopefully, 15-20 years and it’s great to see people using the space as we envisioned it.”