Ahousaht Stewardship Guardian Program

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by PDX outbound, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. PDX outbound

    PDX outbound New Member

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    In preparation for our August trip to Clayoquot, I've been doing as much online research and a book reading as I can. One new topic I just discovered is the "Ahousaht Stewardship Guardian Program" - which appears to be new (2016). It looks like the band is now charging $10/person/night for camping permits to "promote economic development within their territory."

    I couldn't find any reference to this fee on the BC Parks web site for Vargas (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explor ... vargas_is/) or their listing of park fees (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/fees/u ... 8420058136). Please excuse me if I have missed it.

    We are certainly willing to pay for the permit if that is now SOP, but wanted to check here first and see what others have experienced.

    Thanks.
     
  2. AM

    AM Paddler

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    I'm thinking that Liam will be the guy to answer this one. Hope he sees this post.

    Some thoughts:

    - I've got no trouble paying for use. Fair is fair - I pay in other provincial parks. And it's great if money goes into the local community.
    - kayakers have a reputation for being stingy. We've got to change that. Middle class people with expensive gear should be okay with dropping money on fees from time to time and in exchange for reasonable infrastructure (biffies and food caches).
    - what I'm not so comfortable with is when one governing body (Parks) doesn't want to charge a fee, but another governing body (say a local First Nations band) does so anyway. It can get kinda foggy as to who has the authority to collect, where the money is going, etc.

    I've paid in that area before (Flores Island, not Tofino). It was a surprise to me at the time, but the young man with the clipboard and receipt book was polite and I took the opportunity to sit and chat with him about his community.

    I too would like some clarity on this issue, as I'm heading up there in a few days. I guess I'll bring extra cash.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  3. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Hey!

    Sorry, saw this thread a couple days ago, but it was while the forum was in stasis during the upgrade....

    ***

    Big Picture:
    Perhaps rightly so, the political reality in Clayoquot Sound, as in many areas, is moving towards more equal distribution of rights (management of land, permits, etc) amongst the various communities which reside here. As a 'local' resident (my entire adult life has been lived in Tofino, now raising my family here) I desperately want to see the monetary benefits of eco-tourism to reach ALL the various people who reside here.

    The more economic benefit local communities are able to receive, the less drive to move towards disruptive resource extraction industries.

    Local Picture:

    It is important to recognise the dynamics of territorial divisions within Clayoquot Sound. The Esowista Peninsula (where the town of Tofino is located) is within Tla-o-qui-aht Territory. Much of the areas 'day-tour' kayaking operates is also within Tla-o-qui-aht Territory. However, virtually EVERYWHERE multi-day kayaking, whale watching, & hot-spring tours operate are within Ahousaht Territory. The Tla-o-qui-aht, by virtue of location, are able to harness more of the eco-tourism economy Tofino generates, while many of the signature acitivies (whale-watching, hot springs, kayaking multi-day tours) operate within Ahousaht territory with little monetary recompense. The Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht nations are separate nations; do not lump together.

    Ahousaht Guardian Program:
    This program is being run the 'right' way. While mostly initiated by the Ahousaht Nation on their own, the program is building upon other previously established programs (see: Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park), and is quickly gaining more formal recognition.
    See: Ahousaht MOU with BC Government - 2016
    It is also heartening to see the Ahousaht putting forward a progressive land-use plan:
    See: Ahousaht Land-use vision - Friends of Clayoquot Sound

    The Ahousaht Guardians are working to run above board. They wear uniforms, will issue you a receipt for your payment, drive an identifiable boat. Anecdotally, they have also helped assist kayakers who have run into trouble in the area.

    My Perspective:
    As a local commercial operation, Tofino Sea Kayaking is actively participating in the Ahousaht Guardian Program, as well as the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park program. We purchase Ahousaht Guardian permits for tours which operate within Ahousaht Territory, as well as collect for the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Park fee. My experience with the Guardians have been polite individuals, passionate about the integrity of the land base, and excited to see you experiencing their territory.

    I would encourage visitors to the area to consider purchasing a permit.

    Permits can be purchased at the Lone Cone Campground office. Alternatively, Tofino Sea Kayaking can collect the fee and issue a Permit on behalf of the Ahousaht Guardian Program (Note: Tofino Sea Kayaking does this as a community member and all money collected is delivered to the Ahousaht Guardian Program)


    2017 Permits:
    $25 / per person / per night to camp within Ahousaht Territory
    or
    $40 / per group / per night to camp within Ahousaht Territory
    (This $40 fee is very reasonable. If you are a group of 5 people, that is only $8 / night)
     
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Aside from collecting money for themselves, are they providing any services (composting toilets, cleanup, maintenance) of any kind at the campsites?

    I don't understand - is this a compulsory thing or optional? I thought the fees were collected by the 'guardians' in their power boat? Is this not being done consistently?

    This fee structure certainly favours larger groups which tend to be typical of commercial operations.
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The band which oversees part of the Deers charges ten bucks a person a night. Twenty five is pretty stiff. Lorry and Doreen only charged ten bucks a tent per night, Deers, in the day. I miss them.
     
  6. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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  7. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    In my conversations with them I have encouraged them to highlight any visible work they do to build more support within the user groups (such as the kayak community). It is still a very new initiative (this is only it's second year), and with limited funding sources, only so much can be accomplished. I feel this program is building capacity within the communities, and if it is embraced, the kayaking community can keep our voice heard.

    It is still 'optional'. They have been clear to me that their plan is to educate visitors to their territory, and request the purchase of a Permit.

    There are several ways to attain a permit. One can pre-purchase the permit at a number of locations in Tofino (Lone Cone Campground Office, Tofino Sea Kayaking, Tofino Water Taxi, and perhaps others). Also if you meet them in their boat you can purchase from them; but Clayoquot Sound is large, and one might not encounter them during your visit.

    Ultimately the Guardian Program, the Lone Cone Campground, and some other initiatives are managed by the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (an Ahousaht Nation Corporation), to promote economic development within their territory on behalf of the members of their nation.

    I would agree. They increased the individual rate from $10/night to $25/night this year. The group rate was unchanged. As far as I know, I don't think any commercial kayak operations had input to their rates. I know that I was never asked about what rates I thought were suitable.




    I can understand the hesitancy many people feel about new fees being applied in areas where we once travelled free of charge. However, looking at the bigger picture, I feel this is how many areas are progressing, and perhaps rightly so. In the larger picture of reconciliation this is a step along a path. There will be bumps along the road; disagreements and victories; but this is a route it is important to follow. If the kayaking community wishes to have a seat at this table... well... we need to play the game.

    As a long-term resident of Clayoquot Sound, the disparity between the have and the have-not is disturbing. As someone who desperately wants to see the ecological integrity of Clayoquot Sound maintained, I have long felt that the key is finding sustainable economic models for all members of the region. Please remember that each Ahousaht Guardian is a proud member of their nation, with a deep love of the land and ocean, who takes pride in their job keeping watch. Every job provided through this, is perhaps one less job needed from an open-pit copper mine on Catface Mountain, logging of the intact forests, or other less sustainable options.
     
  8. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Thanks for all that detailed info, Liam.
    The MOU specified BC taxpayer input of $50k signing bonus + $250k/year, so I don't think funding is the problem (even after buying that nice boat?).



    From the online comments I've read, it didn't seem 'optional' to the folks on the other end of the 'request'. The 'requests' extend to boats anchored as well.

    Since you are one of the biggest kayaking operators in the area, and you weren't asked for your input, there obviously isn't a 'seat at the table' waiting for the kayaking community.

    Well, that is a laudable hope, but I don't think even $25/night from every kayaker will balance millions on the table for resource extraction. That 'deep love of land and ocean' hasn't stopped big plans for projects elsewhere (Banfield LNG, Bamberton LNG, clearcuts behind the Juan de Fuca trail, etc. ). Whether the 'have-nots' will get any money from any of this is another question entirely.

    There are still other places to paddle, after crossing Broken Group ($45 for a day paddle for a pair of boats, and campsites deteriorating) and Clayoquot ($25/night) off the list.
     
  9. VanIslePaddler

    VanIslePaddler Paddler

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    Thank you John for your comments. I will continue to express my opinion as an individual who lives here in Clayoquot.

    The MOU was not for the Guardian Program, but with the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) for economic development in many areas. The Guardian Program is but one aspect of this.

    And just take a step back for a second... this is NOT a lot of money.

    Imagine for a moment, this is ONLY paying wages (which it is not). Imagine a $50k / year salary (which many people in Clayoquot Sound could only dream).

    Clayoquot Sound has the 2nd highest cost-of-living in all of BC; only Vancouver is more expensive. See: BC Living Wage

    'Nice Boat'... have you seen it? It's a boat. It's seaworthy. It is NOT some fancy million dollar machine... what would you expect?

    I am working to facilitate collaboration, not confrontation.

    Many kayakers do not ask permission of FN prior to visitation. I am willing to forgive them if they forget to ask me my opinion prior to implementation. We are 'small' potatoes in the scheme of things.

    On several occasions they have come to my shop, and met with me officially to discuss the program (not pricing). I have also gone to them directly to discuss aspects of the program. We are small communities trying to figure this all out together. (we are only 5000 people total who live year round - Ahousaht, Tofino, Hot Springs, Opitsaht, Ty-Histanis, Esowista, Ucluelet, Hitacu, Macoah)

    Personally, I have benefited, financially and through experience, by operating in areas with obvious FN history; I am happy to have an opportunity to continue to do so, while giving a small amount back to the communities who's territory I am visiting.

    Please remember there are multiple other user groups which operate within their territory. Whale watch operations, hot spring visitors, hikers, surfers, sport fishermen, etc etc. Kayakers are relatively low on this list of total visitation.

    I am forever an optimist. Jumping off a boat while still in harbour means we will not even be considered once it has sailed.

    Almost everyone I know (Ahousaht, White, Asian , or other) would prefer to earn an income and maintain an ecosystem, versus earn an income and destroy an ecosystem. Poverty will drive any of us to alternatives in order to support families.

    Have fun John.

    I, however, will continue to try and work with the nations in the region I reside, and continue to participate in the evolving nature of our relationships.

    From the white sand beaches of Clayoquot Sound. - Liam
     
    Dan_Millsip likes this.
  10. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    It's this type of approach that builds strong alliances. Relationships built from respect are stronger and open doors for amicable resolve and long-term good will. Thank you, Liam, for taking such a stance.
     
  11. PDX outbound

    PDX outbound New Member

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    Liam, thank you for your thoughtful reply and updated information. Having your perspective as a local resident and business owner is very valuable.

    I do wish this fee was more readily transparent both on the BC Parks site and the Ahousaht site. What is a mandatory vs voluntary fee is frustrating to me, but with Liam’s input, I think I understand it better. It would also be good if the Ahousaht Stewardship Society would update their web page to from the 2016 schedule, though I did find on your tofinoseakayaking site the latest 2017 prices that you noted.

    We are still on for our August trip and we will pay for the permit. For our party of two, spending 5 nights in the area, it will be $200. I agree with Andrew that kayakers need to pony up for the facilities and access provided, but that is not an insignificant amount, and its higher than say the Broken Group, Deer Group or Desolation Sound. I doubt that we will be making regular trips to the area with this fee structure, which is a real tough choice to make. But we would much rather pony up a user fee than see the Ahousaht opt to allow mineral extraction or massive timber cutting, which would clearly be worse.
     
  12. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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    Perhaps the Stewardship Guardian Program should publicise the facilities they are providing to campers; it could change the perception of the program and fees.
    I'd be willing to pay for a campsite where there was a reasonably clean privy (composting or even a barrel privy), regular collection of flotsam/garbage, and some assurance that there would be a spot for my little tent at the end of the day.
    Some attempt at fairness in the fee structure would also help - charging a pair of us $50/night in our tent when somebody down the beach is paying $5 (part of a 'group rate') just isn't attractive at all.
     
  13. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Compared to access fees, at "publically supported" areas paddlers frequent, 25 bucks per person, per night, is outrageously high. Period. But, the areas in question are no longer "public," in the usual sense of the word. A better comparison might be to fees for access to privately held recreational waters and campgrounds ... and then 25 bucks a night might not seem unreasonable.

    In any case, as PDXOutbound says, a sharp increase like this will send paddlers to areas with a lesser tariff. Too bad. Much of Clayoquot Sound deserves World Heritage Site status, for starters, in recognition that all of us, whether First Nations or other, need to protect such places.