Fees in Clayquot

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by Comoxpaddler, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. Comoxpaddler

    Comoxpaddler Paddler

    Aug 30, 2006
    Comox, BC
    Planning a trip to Clayquot Sound this summer, introducing friends to the glories of coastal BC.

    It's a few years since I last camped there. I see the Ahousat have introduced a "Guardian" system and are seeking $10/person, $40/group daily camping fees. A cursory online search shows that this is a couple of years old, looks voluntary (certainly legally not enforceable), but there have been instances of boaters being told by young male Guardians (not the most unthreatening demographic) that they "must" pay.

    Any experiences or thoughts from the group?

  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Dec 7, 2011
    Victoria, BC
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  3. designer

    designer Paddler

    Sep 17, 2012
    Bend OR USA
    $25 per person, per night! So for a paddling partner and myself, that's $50/night to camp on a beach on Vargas Island - no water, no picnic table, no composting toilet.

    We see a lot of that kind of economics - our local (failing) newspaper has increased their monthly rate from $11 to $33; we will most likely drop taking the paper next month. I don't know how much study they do on the revenue they will loose relative to their expected gains.

    [spared additional rant] :)
  4. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Dec 7, 2011
    Victoria, BC
    Actually your 2 persons would have been a 'group' and the bill would have been $40, IIRC.
    The rate structure seemed 'not well thought out', to say the least

    The rates have been made a bit more 'sensible' now ? $10/person/night or $40/group/night ??

    No matter, it's too much for me. Lots of other places to paddle....

    And, I'm opposed to any fee or permit system that encourages large groups (to me, large means any group of more than 3-4 persons..) though the commercial outfits will support that model, no doubt.
  5. parowlands

    parowlands New Member

    Jun 9, 2008
    We had an encounter with the Ahousaht Guardians in July 2017 at the end of two week trip through the area, at our final camp on Vargas Island. If we had paid the requested amount as shown on the fee schedule they provided it would have cost us $700.00 for our 14 day trip; we ended up giving them $20.00; others on the same beach chose not to make any payment at all. The Guardians had a map showing most of Clayoquot Sound as being included in their recent land settlement, including all B.C. Parks land on Vargas and Flores Islands and other Crown Lands such as Whaler Island and the coast between Hot Springs Cove and Boat Basin.

    Before another trip last summer I contacted B.C. Parks requesting clarification on the situation, asking if representatives of the Ahousaht First Nation were within their rights to be collecting fees for kayakers visiting the area.

    Their response follows: (note that this information is now 18 months old so the situation may changed since the spring of 2018)

    "Thanks for your inquiry about the fees that you were asked to pay when visiting some of the Provincial Parks in the Clayoquot Sound.

    I have heard of other park visitors and businesses who were approached by the Ahousaht First Nation Guardians last year requesting a fee within all of their traditional territory (not just within BC Parks).

    To clarify, at this time, BC Park does not charge an overnight or day use fee to the general public to camp or hike on Vargas Island Provincial Park or Flores Island Provincial Park. There is a fee to hike the Wildside Trail on Flores Island however this fee is not applicable to people camping within the park boundaries. There has been no change in ownership or management of the Provincial Parks and BC Parks remains the legislated land managers of these natural spaces. We are not charging fees to camp and we have not endorsed the collection of fees within the parks.

    Areas outside of the boundaries of the Provincial Parks may be different and I am not aware of how the Ahousaht First Nation manage those areas that fall within their traditional territories. My understanding is that Crown Land is available to all to use responsibly and I doubt that the Ahousaht Guardians have any legal right to collect fees from visitors.

    In short, the Ahousaht First Nations Guardian fee is not a legislated fee and I have no idea if any of these funds are being used by the Nation or if these are rogue members who are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting visitors. I suspect that if you were to ask for a receipt that they would not be able to offer one.

    That being said, should a member of the public or a company wish to pay this fee, that is their prerogative and would be between themselves and the Ahousaht First Nation.

    If you are approached again by members of the Ahousaht Guardian program when you are out here please feel free to report the occurrence directly to me and I will follow up with the appropriate authority."

    Kind regards,

    Michael Grandbois
    Clayoquot Area Supervisor
    BC Parks
    Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
    West Coast Region
    (250) 725-2149
    PDX outbound and JohnAbercrombie like this.
  6. Rodnak Kayak

    Rodnak Kayak Paddler

    Dec 19, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I would be interested in Liam's take, if it has changed. I totally understand the will to be and get better for theFN, but, as it has been stated in the other threads, the pricing is a bit high, there seems to be no reason or rhyme to pricing for "groups" of 2 for example. To go for a chaperons vaca, with paddle in hand, to an iconic area, then be charged, somewhat haphazardly seems awkward at best. We were planning a trip this way this summer, but may balk at it. Tofino Sea Kayaks makes a profit doing tours, where, as a simple paddler I do not. It is parkland or Crown land...can the FN not try and do something more "official", as I would not be comfortable in doling out my cash to some guys wearing "uniforms"...Don't get me wrong, I agree with Liam on his tenets, just not in the haphazard way they are implemented. I owl be interested in any changes that have come since the last thread of posts.
  7. a_c

    a_c Paddler

    Dec 23, 2014
    Watching this thread with interest as I, too am contemplating a trip here in early June.

    It's not so much the money as the principle (and I can see both sides; as someone mentioned in one of the other threads, a bit more transparency would be helpful); plus the fact that I don't want a potentially unpleasant on-the-water encounter to taint my paddling experience in this wonderful area.

    It's interesting that a few folks have now mentioned they are rethinking their paddling itineraries based on this 'fee'....and while I'm sure the people posting on here do not represent the majority of casual paddlers, it does give the area a bit of a negative aura, imo.
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    May 31, 2005
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    The two Huu-ay-aht elders who monitored the Diana and Haines camping areas in the Deer Group, Barkley Sound, informally collected ten dollars a night, each tent, up until they both passed on, 2006. Their practice was endorsed by the folks in the band office at Pachena Bay, who would in lieu sell you a permit for camping, at the same rate. Unfortunately, Doreen and Laurie wanted cash in hand. Over the years we got to know them a bit, and skipped the official process. At first, they handed campers a copy of the "rules" when they came by to collect, but that ended after a while.

    I always figured the tariff was a reasonable one and just went along with them.
  9. kayakwriter

    kayakwriter Paddler

    Feb 27, 2006
    Our group of three had an unfortunate experience at Diana Island last summer. I'd mailed the Huu-ay-aht First Nations Government Offices in advance, filled out the permit app and mailed them a cheque to cover from July 14 to 17 inclusive. After we'd paid and secured the permit, Rita Johnson at the band office mentioned that there would also be an Huu-ay-aht First Nations youth group camping there the last two nights of our visit. She didn't suggest we'd be unwelcome but just that we might want to camp off to one side and know there would be activity and noise. We actually thought it would be pretty cool to see young folks of any culture getting their wilderness camp on, so we were looking forward to their arrival.

    However, on the morning they arrived, the young man leading the group made it very clear that we weren't welcome to stay. Our printouts of the emails and the permit cut no ice with him. He wasn't loud or threatening, just very firm that we would have to leave. So we packed up in a hurry and moved to the Ross Islets.

    Once back, I emailed Rita Johnson about the situation, and requested and received a refund for the two nights we'd missed out on. No malicious intent on anyone's part that I can see, simply a failure of internal communications within the Nation's administration about what was going on and who was "driving the bus" regarding non-native visitors to band land.
  10. PDX outbound

    PDX outbound Paddler

    Sep 29, 2015
    Perhaps Liam can weigh in on the details, but I read with interest on the Tofino Sea Kayaking site that last year
    "Tofino Sea Kayaking, SKILS, and Paddle West, working with the Ahousaht Stewardship Guardians, organized, funded, and installed two new Green Throne Outhouses at Rassier Pt and Miltes Beaches on Vargas Island. The outhouses are the exact same make and model of outhouse utilized by BC Parks up and down the BC Coast (including Vargas Island). With the installation of the outhouses, these two sites now have the same infrustructure as the BC Parks sites on the outside of Vargas Island (food cache & outhouse)."

    That's added value and much appreciated and it would be the kind of project that we kayakers might support with these fees. I wonder though if the Ahousaht Guardians contributed financially or with labor, or was it more along the lines of just 'blessing' the project.