Municipal hopefuls irk Multiplex chair

After hearing what she considered to be swing-and-miss responses from two of Ucluelet’s municipal candidates, West Coast Multiplex Society chair Samantha Hackett plans to get more information out to the public about the proposed facility.

The society is currently working towards raising $6 million of capital funding to cover the facility’s first phase: a skating rink.

Hackett asked three specific candidates for their thoughts on the proposed multiplex during last week’s all candidates meeting in Ucluelet.

“With the referendum passed, we’re in the capital fundraising stage,” she said.

“Do you see an opportunity for you, in your sought after role, to support the project moving forward and how will you do so?”

She directed her question to mayoral candidate Dianne St. Jacques and council candidates Dario Corlazzoli and Mayco Noel.

She told the Westerly these candidates were chosen because they were the only ones whose opinions she and society member Sue Payne were unsure of.

“(Payne) knew where everyone stood except for those three so we were looking to see where they stood on it,” she said. “We didn’t want these three candidates to shy away from the question.”

St. Jacques responded first and said the multiplex has been a long sought after facility.  

“Clearly it’s something that the people want and with all the communities working together I think that it could be possible,” she said.

“The challenge has always been, not so much the build of it because I believe grants can be obtained and there are funds out there for that, but it’s how to maintain it. That would be something I would work on and work with folks to see how that can be managed and what needs to be done in order to do that.”

Corlazzoli spoke to his time as a hockey parent driving his son to and from Port Alberni up to five times a week for ice time and said he has seen an increase in the number of families commuting to Port Alberni’s skating rink.

He spoke in favour of nixing these commutes by bringing a rink to local families.

 â€œI’m very much in support of having yet another facility for our younger generation to be able to stay at home to play,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity and I’ll do everything I can to help it along.”

Noel expressed caution over the proposed facility’s potential maintenance costs.  

“Once it’s built that’s almost the easy part,” he said. “But where are you going to get that funding to maintain it, who’s going to look after it; those kind of costs are usually what gets you.”

He suggested the West Coast’s communities would need to “come to the same crossing at the same time to make that commitment financially for those maintenance costs,” before the project could be realized.

 â€œThe hidden costs of maintenance is the one I’d be dragging my feet on,” he said.

Hackett told the Westerly she was happy to hear Corlazzoli’s response but was disappointed with the responses from St. Jacques and Noel.  

“Dario (Corlazzoli) I was very impressed with. I was surprised at how keen and supportive he was but obviously with his background he would be,” she said.

“The other two unfortunately were just very uneducated on the multiplex society.”

She said St. Jacques’ and Noel’s responses have prompted her to get more information out about the proposed facility.

“I don’t blame them for being uneducated about it. I think that it’s something that we have to do a better job of because if two of the (candidates) don’t know where the society is at then obviously we need to get our message out there better,” she said.

“Both of them mentioned they were in support of the multiplex but hesitant not knowing how it was going to be funded, running it year on year, but that was what the referendum was.”

A September 2012 referendum, which passed with 63 per cent of the vote, enables the facility to recover operating costs through taxation to a maximum requisition of $450,000.

Hackett said maintenance costs fall under the operating costs covered in the referendum.

 â€œThe Alberni Clayoquot Regional District has taken full responsibility of the facility; they will be running the facility,” she said. “If there is any need for other money to maintain the facility year on year it comes from the taxpayers of Tofino, Ucluelet and Area C.”

She said the Multiplex Society plans to meet with the West Coast’s newly elected officials shortly after the election.

Read more meeting coverage in this week’s Westerly News, on newsstands now.

reporter@westerlynews.ca