Revitalizing and Embracing West Bamfield’s Culture and History

Andrea Butler, lead hand on-the-ground for the West Bamfield project

Photo credit: Andrea Butler

“Over 10 years ago, we had a community meeting and agreed that West Park needed a pavilion. With no money, we tried in vain for many years to secure funding. One day we were asked to consider working with UBC students to create plans for our park. Blending the community’s special wishes and desires, based on our history geography culture and diversity, the students drafted a plan. We held a Go Fund Me drive during this time. This valuable process led us to be refined and focused and to apply for bigger funding. 4VI was introduced to our idea and believed in us enough to start our bigger funding process. I believe that we were then connected with Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Community Placemaking funding application process.  

Once funding was secured, we worked through the local Bamfield Parks Commission and the Alberni Clayoquot Reginal District and signed a contract to build the most beautiful post and beam pavilion possible and locally sourced. Twenty volunteers showed up to help pour the footings. The community has been overwhelmingly supportive. The pavilion arrived by boat, as everything here must do, and in pieces. Pickles Timber Frames built the pavilion at their shop in Errington and assembled the structure over three days (with only rubber mallets and wooden dowels) just as the first snow fell. The unique clear poly roofing followed installed by our local builders. 

Over the next few months, the Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Forest harvested red cedar for the project. The logs were trucked to Port Alberni and milled at Great Central Milling. The lumber was bundled and shipped to West Bamfield via the Lady Rose Marine Services as well. The local builders designed and installed the homegrown deck. Today we held the first yoga class on-site! 

Other parts of the project include a forest adventure pod, a living path, an inviting colourful set of new steps as well as six interpretive signs. These signs are very attractive and educational. One will feature the Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s history of the area, including a red cedar carving. 

The revitalization of West Park now as a stunning attractive meeting place with shelter from our relentless rains means so much for the community. The property with prime ocean views and a central location to West Bamfield’s busiest dock approach now invites so many more events and activities!  

We have already had the Bamfield Community School, the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre, some of the lodges, families with children, local musicians, community organizations, and ones from away requesting to use the new facility. We are planning an Easter potluck at the park next and of course a big ribbon cutting event in May! 

We are a remote water, access-only, location with a very active and diverse demographic. We hope to see more healthy living with this newfound meeting hub.  

There are new trails joining this park to the adjacent Greenspace, which has also been revitalized. Some locals are calling it a game changer for their daily routine. Ultimately our goal has been to have more outdoor venues, more active with attractive areas for all ages to maintain a happier and healthier community. 

We are incredibly grateful for the work that has come together to make this project such a success. With this funding we have been able to transform an abandoned field into a huge attraction.” 

“The structure is absolutely amazing. You have now set a precedent for future park improvements.” – Luc Stefani, ACRD Building Inspector 2.  

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The Revitalization of Bamfield’s West Park was funded by Island Coastal Economic Trust with $50,000 through the Community Placemaking Program in 2022. The program supports new, innovative, concepts driven initiatives which foster increased visitor attraction, resident engagement and/or serve to leverage incremental cultural, historical or tourism activity and events. Learn more: Revitalization of Bamfield’s West Park