Candidates: Improved communication needed

Communication between district staff and developers has not always flowed smoothly in Ucluelet as illustrated by the still inactive St. Aidan-on-the-Hill church.

During last week’s all candidates meeting, moderator Lance Blackwell asked candidates “how would you encourage staff to work together with developers to ensure projects such as the church move forward in a timely manner.”

Incumbent Dario Corlazzoli, who has been the chair of the district’s planning committee for about a year, said improvements have been made but more are needed.

“I’ve really noticed a big change in how we’re dealing with people that come into the office,” he said.

“Over the last year, I’ve noticed a lot of improvements and I still think we’ve got a ways to go to help with that relationship between staff and developers.”

He added the community’s communication to council is also key and spoke to the district’s new zoning bylaw, which was recently passed with some controversy.

“There’s obviously sections in there that may have to be amended and that’s where the community is going to have to help us,” he said.

“I think as a community we can improve how our planning department is portraying what we want to have happen in Ucluelet.”

He encouraged locals to get engaged and help shape their community.

Incumbent Sally Mole said effective two-way communication would help solve problems before they started.

“Communication is such a big part of the process. I think it’s vital and I think we have some flaws there. We are working through them but I think there’s a lot of work to still be done,” she said.

“There’s room for more respectful dialogue with proper processes and policy that will help us get through that communication block that we sometimes have.”

Ucluelet council’s communication methods, both internal and external, were also questioned and candidates were asked what they would do to improve communication between council, staff, and citizens.

Incumbent Randy Oliwa focused his response on communicating with staff.

“Council only has one employee and that is the Chief Administrative Officer…If you don’t have faith in that individual, you meet as council, you discuss it, and you come up with Plan B,” he said.

“With that being said, I believe that mayor and council currently has given clear direction and insight and backing to our CAO.”

He said council meets regularly with Yeates to discuss communication strategies and the projects on staff’s plate.

He added he is open to speak with anyone and has brought locals into meetings with Yeates.

“That’s the quickest and easiest way to come up to a resolution,” Oliwa said.

Marilyn McEwen focused her response on communicating with the public.

She spoke to Ucluelet’s recent Town Hall Meeting regarding the district’s water and said staff and council put solid effort into explaining what was going on and what needed to be done.

“I’d like to see more Town Hall Meetings so that the citizens can be more informed of what mayor and council are up to,” she said.

She suggested the district’s website could be utilized more effectively.

“Something as simple as putting a subscribe button on there so you as a citizen could click on subscribe and then you would be informed every time something got uploaded to that website,” she said.

“It would be a really good way for the citizens to keep in touch with what’s going on at the district.”

She suggested Ucluelet develop a Facebook page and cited Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne’s Facebook page as a solid tool for community engagement.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people locally that say they know more about what’s going on in Tofino than they do in their own town of Ucluelet,” McEwen said. “I think they’re doing a really good job of making information more available up at that end.”