Cpl. Andrew Waddell will pack up his bike and ship out to Comox next week.
The 28-year veteran of the police force colloquially known as Tofino’s bike cop has been transferred to Comox and will leave Tofino on August 15.
Tofino’s detachment is a threeyear limited duration posting and after receiving a fourth year, Waddell said it’s time to move on.
“We leave with heavy hearts, the force has treated me fantastically they gave me an extra year here and I’m very grateful of that…I’ve got to step away because it’s a very coveted job I have but I’m going to miss it terribly,” he said.
“I’m not going to make any positions that I should stay longer; I got my fair share and I’m very thankful for it. It’s time for me to go. We are a mobile force; I’ve been through Canada and the Arctic and I make every place an adventure.”
He leaves Tofino with wife Vicki, son Justin who is heading into Grade 11 and daughter Kate who is heading into Grade 8. “I am going to miss it terribly and my family will too,” he said.
“We’re all very attached to this lifestyle. As many people know, whether I’m working or not, I enjoy getting from point A to point B on my own be it walking or on a bicycle and this community allows you to do that.”
Prior to moving to Tofino fulltime, Waddell was a frequent visitor to the West Coast.
“I used to be one of these tourists that you see all over the place and I imagine after we leave I’ll become one of those again with my family,” he said.
He said his four-year Tofino stint “was a dream” and he enjoyed getting out and interacting with familiar faces in the community while working his beat.
“Knowing people and having those connections makes your job easier,” he said. “It makes your days interesting; you can get out and about and talk to people.”
Waddell launched the Tofino Bicycle Initiative (TBI) in 2013 and through this initiative he dished out bike helmets, installed over 160 sets of bike lights, and even scored a few bicycles to help locals get to work.
He led a significant fundraising charge to land an electric bicycle and gear for Ty-Histanis resident Ernest Curley who was working in both Ucluelet and Tofino and
needed reliable transportation to manage the Pacific Rim Highway.
Waddell was able to raise the roughly $2,500 needed for Curley’s transportation solution.
He said he plans to continue fundraising for the TBI to help out local cyclists but does not expect anyone to take the initiative’s helm.
“That was really something I did personally. I don’t expect anyone to carry it on. It was something I could do through work and it was also something I was passionate about so it was very easy for me to do,” he said.
“It’s going to continue in the sense that I am still going to support the people who got bikes from me who need the financial support.” When news broke that Waddell had received his transfer papers, municipal councillor Cathy Thicke lamented over the loss of the community’s bike cop touting his presence as a huge benefit.
She expressed hope another officer would step in to fill his pedals but Waddell doubts a new bike cop will be realized because of the challenges they would face.
“I’m not in the technological age where I need to have a computer or an IPhone with me all the time; our cars (and) our trucks are all equipped with computers that are linked to everything in the world. We’re getting a generation now that can’t live without them,” he said.
“My bike is without one and I’m cool with that but there’s a generation coming that isn’t cool with that…I really generally think a future police officer, a junior one, will put the bike away quickly or not even bother with it.”
While he does not believe there will be another bike cop, he hopes new officers get themselves out in the community in other ways.
“I’ve really tried to encourage the constables I supervise to get out…you’re living here, this is your town, take ownership and do what you can while you’re here to make it better,” he said. “That’s the beauty of a posting like Tofino.”
Last year, Waddell became the Tofino detachment’s first Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock rider and cycled about 1,400 km across Vancouver Island with the team to raise funds for a camp designed for children battling Cancer called Camp Goodtimes.
It was a personal experience for Waddell who battled a brain tumor that is now in remission and watched his son Justin and wife Vicki both win cancer battles of their own.
“With my health and the health issues that have gone through my family with Cancer, every day is precious, I can’t spare a day,” he said.