Port Renfrew, long a logging town, has realized they can capitalize on the protection of their natural assets to keep the community alive.
The Port Renfrew Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Ancient Forest Alliance, the advocacy group that leads tours of the majestic ‘Avatar Grove’, to funnel more tourists into the area and feed the local economy.
“What we used to rely on to sustain Port Renfrew was logging, but the tables have turned,” said Rosie Betsworth, chamber president.
She said while the partnership with an environmental group initially raised eyebrows among area residents, the forest alliance isn’t a “radical” group, instead one that aims to educate people gently about the importance of protecting old-growth forests.
“Their application is soft and it works.”
Betsworth said the flow of visitors coming to see the grove is translating into real growth for the village, and she can understand why.
“The town is small, unique, green and clean,” she said. Everywhere you turn there’s something else to see.”
The community now has its first strip mall- a row of businesses with a restaurant, a market and the info centre, as well as a growing list of accommodations, eateries and eco-tourism opportunities.
She admits that the quality of the West Coast highway needs to be improved, and the switchbacks need to be gentler. “The pressure is on” to keep the Pacific Rim Circle Route, a logging road which connects Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan, maintained.
Port Renfrew has been busy this past few months with the Ancient Forest Alliance bringing the media to town. Since last week our info center has had a steady flow of visitors from far and wide coming to take the “Big Tree Tour”.
The newly released maps, entitled “Port Renfrew: Home of Canada’s Biggest Trees” have been a big hit.
They were made possible by a grant from Paul George and Action In Time. Mapping was done by Geoffrey Senichenko and photography by T.J. Watt.
This was a result from our fund raiser last April at the Sooke Harbor House.
The Wild Coast Cottages have 33 out of 40 cottages sold with another four units on hold.
The developer can barely keep up with the demand. Open houses are bringing in between 10 and 45 potential buyers per showing and with phase two set to start up soon, it seems affordable, turn key properties are exactly what people are looking for and Port Renfrew has just that.
There are also two beautiful new homes being built by local residents and The Coastal Kitchen Cafe has recently added a beautiful new sign to the entrance of their restaurant.
Life in Port Renfrew is as good as it gets right now.
If you’re looking for something to do on the August long weekend please come on out and what’s new in town and while here please take in one very BIG GARAGE SALE held on July 30th & 31st @ the Port Renfrew Marina under the big covered kiosk.
The event runs from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm each day with all proceeds going to the San Juan Burial Park & St. Mary’s Church fund to help with repairs & upkeep.