Maquinna Marine Provincial Park, also known as Hot Springs Cove, has reopened to the public after more than two years of closure. The park, which is located northwest of Tofino, was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions
Not all was lost over the two years, however. BC Parks teamed up with Ahoushaht’s Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society (MHSS) to provide $1 million in infrastructure upgrades, most notably with a new cedar boardwalk trail.
“The Ahousaht have been pleased to be working collaboratively with BC Parks on efforts to re-open and manage the Maquinna Marine Provincial Park and are working together to develop a new visitor use management plan for the park that carefully considers ecological values, Indigenous cultural values and uses, visitor experiences, facilities, and infrastructure,” said the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society in a release. “MHSS and BC Parks are also working together to re-name the park, out of respect for the Ahousaht hereditary Chiefs.”
The release also mentions that the Ahousaht have been marginalized from the Clayoquot Sound economy historically, and that this project has helped them “to assert control over their lands to provide economic benefits, environmental and cultural protections to the Ahousaht people.”
The upgrades came as part of a $5 million investment from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy announced in 2021.
“Investing in provincial parks also protects sensitive ecosystems, supports our climate change goals and makes parks more accessible for everyone to enjoy,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heymen in a press release from the project’s announcement.
“Getting outside is more important than ever, and our government is committed to expanding parks so that all British Columbians can enjoy the beautiful natural landscape of our province,” added Parliamentary Secretary for Environment Kelly Greene.
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park was one of 24 parks to be upgraded, and one of four parks on Vancouver Island, along with MacMillan Provincial Park, Loveland Bay Provincial Park, and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.
“Keeping parks accessible and sustainably supported will create a more welcoming parks system, building healthy communities and future nature stewards,” said Annita McPhee, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, B.C. chapter.
The park, which is accessible by boat, will be open from dusk till dawn for those using private vessels. As part of the reopening, a new voluntary stewardship fee has been announced by the Maaqutusiis Hahoulthee Stewardship Society in partnership with Ahousaht First Nation.
“Individuals are encouraged to pay a voluntary Ahousaht Stewardship Fee of $15 per person, per visit in addition to the $15 per person, per day Hahoulthee access fee,” says Tourism Tofino in a press release announcing the park’s reopening. The Ahousaht Stewardship Fee includes a $3-per-person charge by BC Parks, which is mandatory.
Camping and fires are prohibited within the park, as is bringing in any alcoholic beverages, glass, or pets. A private campground is adjacent to the park, which is operated by the Hesquiaht First Nation