Actions to Address Litter and Illegal Camping

Posted: August 21, 2020

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Tofino Council and staff share the community’s frustration with the unacceptable behaviour like illegal camping and littering that we are seeing the community. With the unprecedented number of issues we’re experiencing combined with staff shortages, it’s been a struggle to keep up with reported problems. We’ve been working on measures to address issues and have implemented the following:

  • Zero tolerance bylaw enforcement:  We stopped giving warnings in July, and now issue tickets immediately for bylaw enforcement of littering, illegal parking and illegal camping. We moved to this tougher enforcement when problems started to escalate in the community.
  • Filling Bylaw Officer position vacancies: We have filled one of the vacant Bylaw Officer positions, which means there are now two Bylaw Officers in place and we are working to fill the remaining casual vacancy as soon as possible.
  • Working overtime: Our Bylaw Officers and Public Works employees are working overtime to keep up with the extra work stemming from excessive garbage and litter in our community and on beaches, large numbers of people who are camping illegally, problems with disrespectful behaviour affecting our residents, and extra health and safety measures needed to address COVID-19 protocols, such as increased sanitizing and cleaning frequency required for public washrooms.
  • Coordinating with partners: We have connected with partners in the community, including Tourism Tofino, Parks Canada, the Chamber of Commerce, RCMP, Surfrider Pacific Rim, Wildsafe BC and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation/Tribal Parks to see how we can support each other to address the issues and raise awareness about our expectations from visitors to our community.
  • Increased communication: We are adding to the COVID-19 entry signage at Stump Dump and Industrial Way to make it clear that illegal camping is not permitted and will be posting information about respecting the environment and our community while visiting Tofino in beach parking lots and other high traffic locations. Some of our partners are also going to help get the word out about the need for reserving accommodation and/or camping space as well as other messaging related to keeping our community free of litter and other waste (e.g. #leavenotrace and “Pack it in. Pack it out”) and the negative impacts of litter on local wildlife and ocean pollution.

To report illegal parking, camping, littering or other bylaw infractions, please call or email Bylaw Enforcement at:

As we do our best to proactively enforce issues while attending to all complaints, please use caution before attempting to intervene on your own. The Tofino RCMP are also available for late night or higher risk enforcement calls such as illegal camping and alcohol-related infractions.

A little background on why we are struggling to address issues…

The unpredictability and extra work required to deal with COVID-19 has increased the challenges we’re experiencing. We have had to deal with the financial impacts of the initial lock down and the need to make changes to keep our staff and our community safe.

  • In March, when Phase 1 and 2 COVID-19 protocols were affecting our community it looked like we were facing an unusually quiet spring and summer, and we heard concerns that our residents and local businesses we would be seriously affected by lack of business. When we consulted with the community, we heard that our taxpayers would like us to cut costs to reduce taxes. In response, we made the decision to stick with just two Bylaw Officers instead of hiring the two temporary positions we usually have in the summer.
  • Instead of having a quiet summer, when the restart program was announced (Phase 3), we went from unusually quiet to a huge influx of tourists and a corresponding increase in problems we have not seen to this degree in the past.
  • One of our two full-time Bylaw Officers also resigned in June, leaving us understaffed just when we were suddenly faced with an influx of visitors.
  • We have been able to get back up to two Bylaw Officers (one full time and casual) and are working to fill a remaining casual position as soon as possible.
  • As other businesses know, COVID-19 measures like communications to address social distancing and public health orders, and sanitizing protocols for public spaces and washrooms also involve a lot of extra time for staff on top of regular duties.