Tofino’s ‘Poolesland’ up for sale

“The idea is that I sell it to us, our whole bioregion; ideally, everybody in Tofino-Ucluelet.”

Changes are coming to a long-standing Tofino campground that’s provided an affordable source of staff accommodation for decades.

‘Poolesland’ is up for sale.

Michael Poole, 66, told the Westerly News he’s been the steward of the roughly 17.5 acres of communal living space since 1988 and is ready to move on and sell the property.

“It’s time to do something different. Anything,” he said.

He said he hopes to sell the land to a community-based organization or society for around $2 million and plans to invest half the proceeds he obtains from the sale into the continuation of a local habitat stewardship project.

“The idea is that I sell it to us, our whole bioregion; ideally, everybody in Tofino-Ucluelet and everybody who ever wants to visit here. It’s quite the unusual crowd-funding,” he said. “It was once community land and it should be again….I don’t need much. Half-a-million [dollars] will be plenty for me.”

He said he has an offer on the table currently and is weighing his options to see what kinds of potential projects come together.

“The more people involved in the community, to whatever degree each of them want, the better,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have more and more people and more and more land that goes from private to community in various regards. To me, community land is land that is managed by more than one person. Ideally, it’s hundreds, if not thousands, of people.”

He said he plans to hold out until the spring of 2018 before selling the property and, if no organization or community crowd-funding effort has reached fruition by then, “I’ll just sell it to the nicest rich person.”

He said ‘Poolesland’ will remain open to campers for the time-being, but added that changes are already afoot.

“In the transition time, we’ll still put up as many people as we can, but the demographic is changing…It’s just time to shift things and we’re a bit crowded at this time,” he said. “It’s winter time. They can go to the city. It’s kind of difficult; we’ve got only 200 amps of power…We’re encouraging people to find their way to another free-lunch somewhere else.”

He hopes to see the land transition into a community housing project and suggested local businesses should look into participating.

“In the future, there will be less and less staff accom. and more on-site management; people working and building tiny homes and building the project,” he said. “I’d like to appeal to all the businesses who aren’t providing staff accommodation to buy a tiny home, or have one built, so that their people can use it.”

Poole presented his plan to Tofino’s municipal council both in a letter and in person at Oct. 24’s council meeting where he encouraged the district to get involved.

“Poolesland and other lands can again be stewarded for community purposes by cooperative management for mutual benefits well into the future. With awareness we may again flourish, on this coast, for another 5000 years,” he wrote in the letter. “My stewardship is ending. Some methods of the successes need to be continued, but not at this location in Tofino. Other locations and options for staff accommodation, camping and housing need to be considered and prepared before the summer of 2018.”

After hearing his presentation, Tofino councillor Greg Blanchette expressed gratitude for Poole’s efforts.

“In terms of housing innovation, I think you and ‘Poolesland’ has kind of been it for the last decade or more. You’ve got a vision that is unlike anything that has been expressed to my knowledge anywhere in the community, or anywhere on this side of the island…I think that adds a certain spice to the conversation that is really valuable for us to have,” Blanchette said. “I appreciate your vision and your presence and persistence in the District of Tofino.”

Blanchette added the longstanding campground has been a source of longstanding tension because the land is zoned “for nothing innovative,” and he said he would like to see a “marriage” between the innovative thinking shown at Poolesland with the district’s zoning mechanisms.

Coun. Dorothy Baert said she hoped the land could transition into a more mutually-beneficial win-win between its inhabitants and the district.

“It’s been a bit of a double edged sword. In some ways, in my view, it hasn’t necessarily entirely served your vision because it’s not been able to find a pathway to function without conflict with the municipality,” she said to Poole.

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