The Ucluelet Recreation Commission will have a key role to play in shaping a significant addition set for Ukee’s skate park.

Participation needed to shape Ucluelet recreation

“It was really disappointing to see only one person come to our rec. meeting."

Ucluelet needs a boost in participation to mould the future of recreation.

Attempts to breathe new life into Ucluelet’s Recreation Commission have come up empty this year but municipal councillor Sally Mole isn’t giving up on her efforts to bring more local voices to the table.

The commission’s role is to make recommendations that Ucluelet’s council uses to shape the recreational offerings and infrastructure necessary to create and nurture healthy local lifestyles.

Membership has waned over the years and council tried to replenish the group at the start of this year by putting a call out for new members in January. Zero applications were received. Interest hasn’t picked up much since then as just one local attended an Oct. 24 open house designed to drum up interest, according to Mole.

“It was really disappointing to see only one person come to our rec. meeting,” she said.

Mole told the Westerly News that formalities and paperwork might be to blame for the lack of interest.

“I think forms and all that paperwork kind of scares some of those fun people off,” she said.

“People just want to get out and get things done…My personal feeling is you shouldn’t have to apply. You should just turn up and say, ‘Hey, this is what I think and I want to get involved.’”

She suggested council needs to have a discussion around loosening the committee’s terms.

She added that, in the past, council has been reluctant to allow the commission to have its own bank account and administer funds.

“You need to give the people some ownership so that they can say, ‘Hey, look at what we did. We raised this money and we built this,” she said.

“Giving people that empowerment and dropping the bureaucratic crap, for want of a better word, really makes for a good synergy…Council still has to approve what they’re doing and what they’re spending their money on and all that kind of stuff; but, they have a sense of ownership and, I think, that really goes a long way.”

While council is trying to kickstart the commission, recreation is on the rise with a new bike park and beach volleyball court added to the community this year and a $120,000 skate park expansion being mapped out—thanks to a $60,950 grant from the federal government.

Mole, who served as Tofino’s director of parks and recreation for over 20 years and has been one of Ucluelet council’s staunchest supporters of recreational opportunities since being elected in 2013, said these outdoor facilities offer important, unstructured play opportunities.

“It gets kids outside [and] it gets kids jazzed,” she said.

“They can pick up their board and just go, or their bike and just go, and, I think, that’s a great thing. It keeps our kids active and healthy and we all know that’s great for kids and, in the end, it’s great for the community.”

She encourages anyone interested in joining the commission and helping to map the future of Ucluelet’s recreation to email her at smole@ucluelet.ca.