Sep 16, 2008

ALL LOST IN EXURBIA

UCLUELET, British Columbia – Signs warn about cougars. But I'm more worried about an attack by a recession-crazed realtor. Because Weyerhaeuser's planting "an exclusive community" smack in the middle of the Wild Pacific Trail (WPT).

Construction snarls the path now like bubble gum in hair. I try to direct a British couple to the Big Beach. They give up and bolt towards their car. "I'm worried these people will want their privacy," the woman says, waving towards the Oceanwest condos. "This trail doesn't seem long for this world."

But she underestimates the route's resiliency. For a decade, locals battled for this waterfront trail, now 8.4km (5.3 miles). Still growing, the WPT will eventually extend from here to Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park.

The trouble lies in the name, I think. "Wild Pacific" – while wonderfully poetic – does not prepare hikers for the benches, broad gravel path and luxury home sites of what's essentially an exurban footpath.

I race along the rainforest at the ocean's edge. And as the sunset gilds the breakers, I'm all too aware that the million-dollar view is simply on loan from the rich future residents.

The only wild that remains here is the developer's greed.

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