When you reach the fork in the road after driving the winding highway from Port Alberni, you are faced with a choice: take a left towards Ucluelet or a right towards Tofino?

“I’m probably going to get in trouble when I say some of these things,” said Josie Osborne, the MP for both communities, describing the low-key rivalry between coastal towns on Vancouver Island’s west coast.

“I think a person turns right on the highway because they heard of Tofino…the name is there and marketed well. But the secret is to turn left and go to Ucluelet.

“But I always liken them to two fingerprints on the same hand: beautiful west coast geography but just a little different in character.”

Both towns are among 16 remaining communities competing in the Vancouver Island Division in The Search for BC’s Best Small Town, having won their first-round matches with Port McNeill and Port Hardy, Hornby Island and Denman Island and many other communities.

Ucluelet, shown here, as Tofino has a charm of its own or in the words of the area MPP when describing the two: two fingerprints on the same hand: beautiful west coast geography but a bit of a different character. » (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Separated by only 40 kilometers, Tofino and Ucluelet draw somewhat different crowds.

Tofino’s beaches are known the world over, but Ucluelet’s craggy black rocks offer incredible views all their own. Tofino has all the amenities for tourists, but Ucluelet offers a compact downtown area with fewer crowds in peak season.

“Coming from Tofino, the main reason was that I felt like a resort employee,” said Geoff Johnson, a musician and filmmaker from Ucluelet who runs a YouTube channel about the town.

“You kind of always feel like you kind of have to be in character there. At Ucluelet, we’re a little rougher around the edges.”

While Ucluelet’s western waterfront is dominated by craggy black rocks, Tofino’s has plenty of sandy beaches like the one pictured here. (Justin McElroy/CBC News)

Affordability challenges

At the same time, the two communities also have similarities, especially when it comes to affordability and travel issues. Over the past year, the assessed value of a typical property in Tofino has increased by 43% to $1.4 million, and in Ucluelet by 42% to $705,000.

“There’s a common thread for people recovering from Tofino…people like me who were there for eight or 10 years and see enough change to be like, ‘Oh, that’s not what it’s anymore. was. And then they take off and they come down to Ucluelet, which is kind of eight or 10 years behind Tofino in a lot of ways in that transition,” Johnson said.

“The challenges in these small towns, especially these high-profile small towns like Ucluelet and Tofino, are quite unique and often quite unprecedented.”

That’s part of the reason the collaboration is so important: Tofino general manager Bob McPherson says the two towns share a building inspector, have mutual aid agreements, and are reviewing housing plans. a regional point of view.

“We’re talking about things like can she share technology services? Can we share HR services? How can we use the data we’ve collected together to help find solutions together?” he said.

And McPherson acknowledged that although Tofino now has a reputation as a resort town, there was as much reality there as Ucluelet.

“Beneath the veneer of the resort there’s always a community with a lot of depth…and that’s certainly the case in Tofino,” he said.

“Yes, we have a tourist economy. But underneath there are people who work hard. There are people who take their children to school… it’s just that you have to live here to do experience what it is.”

Voting will take place until 10 p.m. PT each day, with eight matchups for the Vancouver Island region found at the end of this article.


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