Dawn Gibson | Sooke News Mirror
A leisurely stroll along Botanical Beach is closer now than just a daydream, as Port Renfrew looks to reopen to visitors on Monday (June 1).
Over the past couple of months, including the May long weekend, the public has been respectful towards residents’ wishes to keep the community isolated, said Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director.
On March 22, residents put up signage in the area and online asking visitors to postpone their trips to the community, which was overwhelmed by people looking to escape self-isolation rules in the area’s beautiful coastal scenery.
Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht Nation closed all businesses, the San Juan Market moved to a delivery service for residents, and beaches, marinas, campgrounds and accommodations were closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Now, as restrictions loosen and the coast begins to clear, the community seeks to once again welcome people to the area.
A committee was formed with “key members of Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht Nation” who diligently worked on a plan of how to reopen.
“The message is we are getting ready to welcome visitors to our coastal community while providing a safe and enjoyable Port Renfrew experience,” Dan Quigley, chair of the Port Renfrew Recovery Taskforce Committee, said.
Along with other areas on the Island, the tourism industry in Port Renfrew will take a hit this summer, not seeing the usual inflow of out-of-town guests.
“It’s tough going,” Hicks said.
“Port Renfrew is bracing for a difficult summer as it is now, but who knows how fast things will change.”
Hicks said in past years, most tourists come from the U.S., overseas, and from the B.C.mainland, which will likely not be the case this year. He hopes Island residents will show support.
Port Renfrew has a population of 140 people, while the Pacheedaht Nation is around 200, with one general store and a small volunteer firefighter department.
– with files from Kevin Laird