B.C. surf town could ban fast-food outlets
B.C. surf town could ban fast-food outlets

A councillor in Tofino, B.C., wants to ban fast-food franchises and retail chains from the West Coast surf town in order to preserve its uniquely laid-back character.

For the approximately 2,000 residents of the Vancouver Island community, a craving for a Starbucks coffee or a McDonald's hamburger means a drive out of town.

That's because there are virtually no chain retailers in the surfing paradise, and District Coun. Stephen Ashton wants it to stay that way.

"It's about protecting something that I think is pretty unique here," Ashton told CBC News.

Over the past 20 years the once-sleepy fishing village has been transformed into an international tourism destination, with many visitors coming to explore its spectacular rainforest and beaches.

But despite the associated development, locals have managed to retain and foster a uniquely colourful character for the village.

At a council meeting on Tuesday Ashton asked staff to look into a bylaw that would help preserve that unique character by formally banning new fast-food franchises and retail chains.

Ashton said he got the idea when Tofino was recently named the best surf town in North America by the popular Outside magazine, after it hosted its first ever professional surfing event last fall.

"I was asked by a reporter, 'Are you worried that you're going to lose what makes Tofino special?' and I thought, 'That is very possible,'" he said.

"Right now I think we're very lucky we don't have any McDonald's or Starbucks or Tim Hortons and the community certainly sees ourselves in 20 years as not having them."

"So, to make that vision stronger, I believe we need a bylaw on the books that says no franchises here in Tofino."

The bylaw if passed would not affect franchises already in the district, such as some gas stations.

Ashton believes it would protect local business, but Steve Bernard, president of the Tofino Business Association, does not agree.

"I don't think it's necessarily a good thing," said Bernard, who also doesn't think franchises would necessarily hurt local companies.

"Lots of people have different points of view and that's fine, but you shouldn't expect a business association to be against business," he said.

District staff will now draft a report on the possibility of a ban, but have already warned any ban may violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Copyright 2010 CBC
I agreed that lot's of people could have a different point of view in this issue. It might be that some people could like it but many of them are not like to ban those fast food outlet. They make them affected because they want a fast food restaurant in the place.

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