Black Pearls pushing for Tofino practice space

The Black Pearls roller derby team wants to move its practices from Ucluelet to Tofino to cut down on travel time and burnout.

Tofino’s municipal council directed staff to determine whether the Tofino community hall would be feasible for the Pearls’ practices, after hearing a presentation from team spokesperson Christine Lowther during last week’s regular council meeting.

“Can you help your West Coast roller derby team the Black Pearls find an indoor practice space in Tofino,” Lowther asked.

She said most members of the team live in Tofino but must travel to Ucluelet twice a week for practices as concerns over floor damage have prohibited the team from using Tofino’s recreation facilities.

“Your team is struggling, derby girls are burning out from having that drive on top of their busy Tofino lives and we are losing people,” Lowther said. “With local yearround practice space, lots

more women would join than do now and the West Coast roller derby movement would grow and stay healthy.”

She urged council to consider allowing the Pearls to practice in Tofino.

“The morale boost that would come from a Tofino practice venue would be huge…id be so gratified to feel that local support,” she said. “Roller derby is great for West Coast women and new freshies have been joining overtime to enjoy physical fitness, team spirit, camaraderie, personal empowerment, community thrills like parades and volunteer opportunities.”

Mayor Josie Osborne spoke in support of the Black Pearls practicing at the Tofino community hall but Coun. Dorothy Baert expressed concern over council leapfrogging Tofino’s recreation commission.

“I’d have a lot more comfort if it goes through the rec. commission myself,” Baert said.

Osborne objected to putting up more hoops for the Pearls to skate through “Respectfully to council, I don’t want to add a lot of bureaucracy and extra layers that the Black Pearls might need to go through to prove their case,” she said. “I think

the only way we’re going to know what kind of damage can be done to a floor is to try it out.”

Coun. Al Anderson suggested wear-and-tear on facility floors is a good thing and Coun. Garth Cameron agreed.

“It would be nice to have the floor worn out because they use it and then, you know what, maybe we can replace it with a floor that’s more user friendly,” Cameron said. “It’s on its way out anyway, we might as well push it over the edge.”

Baert said council did not have enough information to make a decision.

“We do have a community hall which is a district asset, it’s there to be used but at the same time we have to weigh use versus cost; if damage to the floor is huge than it equals so much cost and we need to know that,” she said.

She reiterated her desire to bring Tofino’s recreation commission into the discussion.

“I’m much more comfortable doing it that way and it just means you’ve dotted all your i’s and we’re not sitting there making decisions that might go completely against a considered opinion of the rec. commission,” she said.

Coun. Cathy Thicke expressed support for the team.

“What I like about having this kind of group in Tofino is we’ve got to encourage the younger kids and I think, by having you guys here, people are going to see it and they’re going to want to come along and join,” she said. “There’s a lot of need for more things in the 15-18 age group.”

Council directed staff to report back on the feasibility of the Pearls using Tofino’s community hall for practices.

reporter@westerlynews.ca