Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation set to begin developing new RV park and campground

·3 min read

Since 2005, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN) has thought about opening a new RV park and campground in Tofino.

After over a decade of planning, development for the Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground is set to begin at the end of March, 2021.

Located on Tin Wis Reserve 11, management for the campground will be in partnership with Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort.

There will be a total of 35 RV sites, 13 mini-cabins and 14 sites for tent camping.

Tla-o-qui-aht’s new company, Hilth-huu-is Spirit Construction (HSC), will be leading the development.

“Ten TFN members will have full-time employment throughout the construction process,” said Nick Balaban, HSC project manager. “The goal is to provide as much TFN employment as possible through the course of the project. Whether it be employment through HSC, or hiring existing TFN-owned companies.”

For Alex Masso, HSC business and project manager, the creation of employment opportunities for Tla-o-qui-aht members is what most excites him about the project.

“Training people and building capacity within the nation,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve always thought about and wanted to work towards – helping Tla-o-qui-aht in some form or fashion and seeing other Tla-o-qui-aht members succeed.”

The site has already been logged and the timber that was cleared will be used for the construction of buildings, fences, boardwalks and benches, along with a welcome sign.

There is currently a call for design proposals for the welcome sign.

Additional logs that came off the site were set aside for Tla-o-qui-aht artists.

“We’ll be transporting those to be distributed to TFN artists on a first-come-first-serve basis,” said Masso.

Named after the Nuu-chah-nulth phrase his-shuk-nish tsawaak, meaning “everything is one,” the campground will be a place where “people outside our local region can learn about Tla-o-qui-aht culture and way of life,” said Balaban.

The campground’s name was born out of the nation’s desire to highlight that everything is connected, said Masso.

The mini-cabins, which will act as bedrooms without a shower or bathroom, will have a longhouse façade. The concept was inspired by Hjalmer Wenstob, who put forward the idea.

“I think it’s so important that we highlight the local territory, artists and our local people,” he said. “Indigenous tourism is really on the rise. Let’s get ahead of that curve and really make it a TFN experience.”

English will follow Nuu-chah-nulth on signage throughout the resort, and the visitor centre will host a lounge where Tla-o-qui-aht members can display their artwork for sale.

The project’s completion is targeted for the end of September.

“This is the next step in expanding our tourism plan for Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation,” said Saya Masso, TFN tribal administrator. “It’s a much-needed resource in the region [and provides] a place to house and welcome RV campers. We see it as an easy way to grow employment.”

Melissa Renwick, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Ha-Shilth-Sa