Large slash piles sit along the side of the highway leading into Tofino near the Best Western Plus Tin Wis Resort. The wood is set aside to be ground down by a chipper and used towards the development of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s new RV park and campground.
Led by the nation’s new company, Hithuiis Spirit Construction Ltd. (HSC), the Tsawaak RV Resort and Campground is slated to have a soft launch in April.
It will host 35 RV sites, at least 12 tent sites, and 13 mini cabins that will be built with longhouse facades. Painted by Tla-o-qui-aht artists, each cabin will represent a different moon.
The logs that were felled for the construction of the project are being milled by San Group in Port Alberni so they can be repurposed and transformed into benches and fences, said Alex Masso Jr., HSC business and project manager.
Tla-o-qui-aht artists will also have the opportunity to select felled trees for carving projects, he added.
The job opportunities the project has provided is what Masso said excites him the most.
“It’s really exciting to get to work with friends and family,” he said. “Everybody’s learning lots.”
Around 10 employees from Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations have rotated in and out of the project, said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Economic Development Officer, Jamie Basset.
The $5-million project is currently on budget, but Basset said the weather has pushed scheduling behind.
“Weather conditions in the last two months have slowed us down quite a bit,” he said. "And surprises in the ground.”
It’s just the reality of building right above sea level, he added.
After the soft launch in April, Basset said they plan to be fully operational at the beginning of May.
Named after the Nuu-chah-nulth phrase His-shuk-nish-tsa-waak, meaning “everything is one,” the campground will be a place where people can learn about Tla-o-qui-aht culture and way of life.
“It's a hugely complex endeavour, but we're looking forward to adding it to the tourism resort offering that we currently have with the Tin Wis,” said Basset.