An off-the-beaten-trail attraction near Port Alberni, B.C., has become a victim of its own success.
Known as “Hole in the Wall,” the spot is exactly what its name suggests.
At a picturesque clearing, a small waterfall pours through a man-made hole in a wall of limestone rock that was built decades ago as a former water line.
Driven by Instagram, TikTok and other social media, interest in Hole in the Wall has surged — and that’s where the problem starts.
The site is on private property, owned by forestry company Mosaic, and there is no parking available for hikers who want to see it — meaning visitors have been parking on the side of the highway.
“There’s a lot of safety issues with people jaywalking across the highway in order to access the hole in the wall attraction, which has become very popular over the years,” said Jenny Brunn, general manager of community services with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD).
Access and safety concerns have grown serious enough that the Alberni Valley Visitor Centre in Port Alberni has agreed it won’t promote the site anymore.
“We’re not telling people where it is,” Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce CEO Jolleen Dick told Global News.
“Many people are driving past it, coming here and asking, ‘Hole in the Wall is somewhere around here, can you tell me where it is?’ and it’s a very awkward dance and thing to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t tell you where it is, it’s inaccessible right now.'”
Dick said the growing pains around Hole in the Wall are not unexpected in a developing tourism area.
But she said it highlights the need for the region, the province and other stakeholders to work together to come up with a solution.
“If it is something that is in demand, let’s make it available and put all the pieces together to make sure everybody can have the experience they are coming for,” she said.
“It’s now something that needs to be managed, and people need to come to the table to allocate the resources so that it can be effectively managed.”
Brunn said the regional district has had two meetings with interested parties, including the Ministry of Transportation and Mosaic, to workshop ideas around safety and access.
The district also isn’t ruling out the potential of connecting the site into its existing network of trails and amenities.
“But we are looking to do a feasibility study to see what that would look like if the board wanted to create a new service,” she said.
In its own statement, Mosaic said safety was its highest priority, and that “we look forward to continuing discussions … on a long term plan.”
In the meantime, word continues to spread fast about the Alberni Valley hidden gem.
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