Sally Mole’s tenure as the executive director of Ucluelet’s chamber of commerce ended last week. She had held the position since Aug. 25, 2014.
Cathy Whitcomb, vice president of the chamber’s board of directors, told the Westerly News that Mole’s contract was up and the chamber decided to move in a different direction.
“After reviewing for several months, we’ve decided to take the chamber in the direction it needs to go in for better serving our population in the economic development and commerce side of things,” she said.
She said a new executive director would not be hired immediately as the board will take its time to find a solid match for the position.
“We want to find the right fit for the right direction we’re going in,” Whitcomb said.
“We are going to be looking for someone for an executive director position who has experience in this arena,” Whitcomb said.
The board expects to have a revamped strategic plan finalized this week which will include the return of chamber luncheons as well as new evening mingle events, according to Whitcomb.
She encourages anyone with any questions about the chamber’s new direction to contact the office at 250-726-4641, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re here and we’re willing to discuss with people the direction that we’re moving in,” she said.
Mole, who also serves on Ucluelet’s municipal council, told the Westerly she regrets not being able to fulfill her goals as the chamber’s executive director but the breakup was mutually beneficial as she was struggling to juggle both her chamber and council responsibilities.
“We have talked about it back and forth and I’ve been very open and honest about how much time I’m spending away from the chamber with my council hat on,” she said noting out-of-town conferences and meetings were a heavy burden on her work schedule.
“Council takes time out of your workweek. I was really honest with them about how much time it was taking and it seemed to be quite a bit…In the end we came to an arrangement where I’m gone. I’m done. I’m, kind of, relieved on a lot of fronts and I think it’s better for the chamber.”
She said council is where her passion is and being elected in 2013 helped her find the leadership opportunities she had lost after Tofino restructured its district office in 2012 and nixed the Parks and Recreation Director position she had held for over 20 years.
“When I lost my job in Tofino—that was a passion; that was a life—I was devastated,” she said. “I have opportunities to fulfill my passion and make good things happen in the community and I’m really happy about that.”
Ucluelet’s councillors only earn about $20,000 a year though, and Mole acknowledged her municipal passion comes with financial sacrifice. She suggested holding down a full time job while serving on council is difficult, which could be preventing solid potential leaders from stepping forward.
“That’s not OK,” she said. “When it comes to election time, we want fresh people, whether they’re old or young, people that can give the time. But, if the time is taking away from their job, then we’re not going to get those people…I’ve sacrificed a full time job to dedicate to council. Is that fair? I don’t know if that’s fair.”
She said it’s hard to encourage young locals to run for council knowing the financial sacrifice they’d have to make and suggested it might be time for the community to have an open conversation about paying councillors a living wage.
“I don’t know where the right balance is, but I think it should be publicly known that so much time we put in as councillors isn’t recognized, but it’s also really, really, valuable,” she said. “I think it’s a good conversation to have in a public forum. You’re paying your tax dollars, we all pay tax dollars, what do you expect back from your elected officials?”
She said securing Ucluelet‘s role as the host community for this October’s Tourism Vancouver Island convention and next year’s BC Rural Communities Summit were key highlights of her chamber tenure.
“I have huge respect for the chamber of commerce board. They have been supportive, progressive, and really looking to the future and I hope that growth continues,” she said. “We’re on good footing and think that we can accomplish a lot more moving forward.”
She also hopes to see the positive collaboration she helped foster with Tourism Tofino continue and said Tourism Tofino recently committed to buy into Ucluelet’s Pacific Rim Visitors Centre.
“Tofino has struggles on various issues and Ucluelet has struggles on various issues and, if we have each other’s backs, then we’re stronger together,” she said.