Three couples visiting Tofino from the mainland woke up last week to find their vehicles vandalized outside their vacation rental
Tofino resident Juhelle Stephens told the Westerly News that one of the couples were friends of hers who had arrived for a three-day visit with their 10-month-old baby and she was dismayed to hear what had happened on their second night in town.
“It was completely embarrassing,” Stephens said. “It was upsetting. It sucked.”
She said the vehicles were scratched up and written on, along with some tires being slashed and others having the air let out of them by the vandal or vandals.
“They had taken what I assume is surf wax and written, ‘Go home’ all over the windows and then keyed two of the vehicles,” Stephens said. “It’s not like they were on the sidewalk or blocking anything, they were parked in a driveway.”
She added that all three vehicles had B.C. licence plates and noted the ‘Go home’ messaging contradicted the tires being destroyed.
The vandalism was reported to the Tofino RCMP and detachment commander Sgt. Todd Pebernat told the Westerly via email that another vehicle had its bumper punctured that night.
“None of the damaged vehicles were from out of province,” Pebernat wrote. “Most complaints involving tourists relate to people reporting out of country plates in the community. Most of these people were found to be compliant with the new rules surrounding travel during the pandemic.”
Stephens posted photos of the vandalized vehicles on social media and was heartened by the response she received from the community.
“People were calling and texting me all day to see if they could help. It was actually really, really, cool,” she said. “I was just really, really, impressed with how so many old-time locals called me and sent messages. People that were born and raised here were like, ‘Dude, is there anything we can do to help? This is embarrassing for the town. This isn’t the town that we live in.’ So, all the community that came together to help them was really awesome.”
She added that Long Beach Automotive arrived to fix the tires, Lil Ronnie’s Beachside Barbecue offered the tourists a free dinner and many other locals showed up to show support.
Lil Ronnie’s owner Ronnie Lee told the Westerly he had seen Stephens post about what happened and offered the free dinner to provide what he felt was a more realistic impression of the community.
“I was upset and embarrassed and it made me wonder what type of person would do that, because the people I know in this town aren’t those type of people,” he said. “I wanted to show them that Tofino has got some good people in it…I know Tofino has good people, I love this town. It’s definitely been a hard summer for a lot of people, but we’ve still got to stay together as a community and show our love for one another.”
Stephens has lived in Tofino for 17 years and said the longtime residents she knows all condemned the vandalism.
“There were a lot of people saying it wasn’t a local that would have done that. Nobody who actually lives here for a long time would actually go and do that. We’re a tourist town,” she said. “I know everybody’s tired and everybody’s short staffed, but I don’t think that [the vandalism] reflects how people feel about tourists right now…Hopefully this is just an isolated case. I don’t think it’s going to happen more.”
She added that she was happy her friends got a taste of Tofino’s warmth and suggested memories of the support shown to them will drown out the vandalism incident.
“It’s not going to sour them from coming here,” she said.
“It could have happened anywhere, it just kind of sucks that it happened here. But, so many people came out to help them that it hasn’t soured their image of Tofino.”