Tofino bans big franchises

Politicians in Tofino want to protect the area's unique charm by keeping out franchises like the McDonald's, Starbucks and Tim Hortons.

The District of Tofino's council made a motion Tuesday directing staff to draft a bylaw that would ban franchises in Tofino.

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Politicians are using a section of the official community plan that discourages large-format retail chains and fast-food chains that do not reflect the character of Tofino, said Coun. Stephen Ashton, who proposed the motion.

Ashton said he is concerned Tofino, a small community on the west side of Vancouver Island, would lose its distinctness among other communities.

"We are very unique where you can come to this place and you don't have a Starbucks, Tim Hortons or a McDonalds," he said.

However, Ashton admitted that already existing franchises in the municipality could not be banned.

"I think that we have to be proactive," he said.

Bob Long, chief administrative officer, said the bylaws will have to be enforceable and council will have to assess the risks involved.

"There is something called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," Long said to council. "And sometimes these types of things can conflict with each other. You can't really enact legislation that is contrary to those freedoms and rights."

However, Ashton said one community he knew of passed a bylaw banning restaurants without table service.

"It's do-able ... there's different ways of doing it," he explained. "I'm not suggesting that that would be a solution, but that's how they got around franchises."

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