Ahousaht takes over management of Hot Springs Cove Park

By Denise Titian, March 2, 2017

From left to right: Nathan Charlie (Hanuquii), Tyson Atleo who sits in for ha’wilth A-in-chut, Don Cadden, Regional Director, West Coast Region BC Parks, Kathryn Ryan-Wilson, Area Supervisor, West Coast Region BC Parks.

Photo by Denise Titian

Hot Springs Cove — 

The Ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) of Ahousaht signed a 10-year agreement with the provincial government that will see them take on the management contract for Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, site of the famous Hot Springs.

“The contract will bring employment to Ahousaht membership starting with four full-time seasonal positions,” greeting more than 20,000 visitors annually, said MHSS (Maaqtusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society) CEO Trevor Jones.

“MHSS will be partnering with BC Parks to take on the management role at Hot Springs Cove in Maquinna Marine Provincial Park,” said Maquinna in a message to his people.

The natural hot spring pools are located at the end of boardwalk trail that meanders along the rocky shoreline and through old growth forest. A main feature of the geothermal hot springs is the hot waterfall flowing down a rocky face into half a dozen rocky pools. These pools flow from one level to the next becoming gradually cooler as the fresh spring water is cooled by ocean swells.

To get to the springs, visitors must book a boat or fly from Tofino to the remote location at Refuge Cove.

Through this agreement, MHSS will be responsible for collecting all park visitor and dock moorage fees. Ahousaht will create value-added visitor experiences to generate additional income including the construction of a 12-site campground and day spa.

The new contract will tie in with Ahousaht’s other eco-tourism ventures like the Lone Cone Hostel and Campground and Walk the Wildside Trail.

In addition, visitors to the Maquinna Marine Provincial Park may make reservations through MHSS’s existing website and booking service at the Lone Cone Hostel and Campground website at http://www.loneconetrail.ca/

Jones says MHSS will share cross promotion and booking for trips to the hot springs with their existing businesses.

Kathryn Ryan Wilson, Clayoquot Area Supervisor for Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, said this agreement is huge in terms of relationship building between Ahousaht and the government.

“I’m really excited,” she said, adding that the Ahousaht live nearby and who better to do the work?

The contract comes with a small budget for preventative maintenance of park infrastructure. While there is very little in terms of money associated with the management contract, it is expected that revenues from tourism will suffice.