VICTORIA -- A ban on beach fires being considered in Tofino has polarized residents.

On Sept. 28, the District of Tofino tabled a proposal to ban beach campfires after a busy summer filled with tourists.

“The conversation about the ban has come up in a way to engage the community and discussion options,” said acting mayor Britt Chalmers.

Long-time Tofino resident Ryan Orr created a petition opposing the ban and said it is unacceptable.

“In my opinion, Tofino is not Tofino without beach fires,” he said.

Orr said he understands this summer was challenging with more tourists than were expected, but said this is an easy way out for the mayor and council.

“It unfairly punishes the local residents who enjoy having it as well,” said Orr.

Chalmers said she’s counted more than 80 fires on Mackenzie Beach, but admits she is struggling with the proposed ban.

“There is an environmental factor, the health factor: air quality and burning wet driftwood is really toxic and a lot of people don’t realize that,” she said. “There’s often trash that is left behind, broken glass, boarded fires, the late-night parties and drinking that can be associated with them.”

Orr said some of his favourite memories are spending time with his family while having beach fires.

“This would be punishing the masses because of a few bad apples,” he said.

He hopes more enforcement would be considered instead of the ban.

“We can do better with the clean-up,” said Orr. “I think we just need more enforcement on the beaches, more of a presence there so those very, very few people who are going to flout the rules are going to be aware there is going to be consequences and people are watching.”

Council will meet on Dec. 13 to consider the ban, but Chalmers said nothing has been decided yet.

“We’ve had a huge response, which is incredible, and it will help for a more fulsome conversation,” said Chalmers.