Illegal camping near Ucluelet causing health, environmental concerns

WatchLocal municipal and First Nations officials say there could be hundreds of people camping on nearby logging roads.

Local officials say illegal campsites are popping up by the dozens or maybe even more on a remote logging road off Highway 4, near the Tofino and Ucluelet Junction

“There’s always been a little bit of that for decades now. Unfortunately, this year it seems to be that there is a massive increase in the amount of traffic out there in the number of people camping in their cars, staying in their cars on these back roads,” said District of Ucluelet Councillor Rachelle Cole.

“People are coming from all over the country, you see plates from Quebec, Ontario.”

A video recorded recently on the same road by local First Nation representatives shows dozens of vehicles parked on both sides of the road, as people camped nearby.

“My jaw dropped I couldn’t believe the amount of traffic out there on backcountry roads, yeah it was surprising and worrisome,” said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Director of Lands and Resources Saya Masso.

There are health concerns relating to COVID-19 and the lack of any bathroom facilities.

“The intent was not to come to the West Coast to a reservation that they had at a campground. The intent was to do just what they’re doing and unfortunately, pandemic aside, it’s still a public health risk when there’s no place to wash your hands, there’s no place to do dishes, no washroom,” added Cole.

Officials have environmental concerns due to garbage being left behind and Rachelle Cole who is also a Ucluelet paramedic says she has responded to numerous overdose calls.

“People are going on backcountry roads with a fridge and a mattress in their truck and those are some of the types of things we see also dumped out there,” added Masso.

Officials are lobbying the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to close one of two logging roads into the area and to set up a checkpoint.

The RCMP has also stepped up patrols in the area.

Ultimately people are being asked not to come to the West Coast unless they have reserved accommodations.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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