Ucluelet brings in bylaw ambassadors

Bylaw enforcement is making a comeback in Ucluelet.

The district kicked off a new $15,000 bylaw ambassador program last month putting bylaw officers on patrol in Ucluelet for the first time since 2012.

Two bylaw ambassadors have been hired and each will spend roughly 20 hours a week patrolling the community and bringing locals and visitors up to speed on local laws.

Mayor Dianne St. Jacques said the ambassadors will be focused on providing education rather than dishing out fines.

 â€œTo ticket would be a last resort, it’s more just to give people information,” St. Jacques said. “It’s definitely not a hammer; it’s about educating people and getting them to do the right thing.”

Coun. Sally Mole noted locals raised concern over the lack of bylaw enforcement last summer.

“There was quite a bit of discussion on illegal camping, noisy parties, and dogs on the loose,” she said adding fines would, and should, be rare. 

 â€œI don’t think they’ll be any heavy handedness, unless it’s absolutely necessary, but I think that a gentle approach will go a long way”

Coun. Mayco Noel agreed and said the ambassadors will bring “education of bylaws, extra eyes on the streets and a general presence,” to Ucluelet’s summer season. 

“I supported having bylaw officers in place to provide education and awareness to those living in the community and visiting,” he said.

“The Initiative is education not enforcement. I understand the community wants to see a presence but not a strong hand.”

Coun. Randy Oliwa suggested kicking the program off in May allowed locals to become familiar with their new ambassadors in time for summer.

“There will be a communication initiative to inform and familiarize the community on what the program is all about,” he said.

“This fall, council, together with staff will review the program and discuss its effectiveness. We believe that it will be a valuable program and look forward to hearing from the community, we want your feedback.”

He believes the new program will be a welcomed addition to Ucluelet’s summertime landscape.  

“The community has been very clear to council that they would like to see some degree of By-law enforcement back in the community, especially May through September,” he said.

 â€œRealizing we are limited in funding, council did its homework and came up with a strategy that would serve the community but not add substantially to our administrative expenses. We simply cannot afford a full time bylaw enforcement officer year-round.”

Oliwa added the new ambassadors would work in partnership with local police.

“Another tangible with this program is how our bylaw officers will work together from time to time with our local RCMP,” he said.

“It is a great example of our district and RCMP building a partnership by supporting each other and establishing clear roles and responsibilities.”

Ucluelet RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Jeff Swann said he is thrilled with the new initiative.

“It’s so appreciated,” Swann said.

“We have a large influx of tourism in town, that’s not to say it’s all bad, but it just means more accidents, more incidents, (and) more people…For the district of Ucluelet to hire two bylaw officers for the summer is phenomenal.”

Swann said a bylaw ambassador was out and about over the May long-weekend and helped police oversee an incident free kick-off to the West Coast’s busy season.  

“The bylaw officer that was working over May long-weekend worked closely in conjunction with us,” Swann said.

“I communicated several times with him about any issues or concerns, or areas to patrol, and there was some great public relations work done there by bylaw too.”

St. Jacques said the bylaw ambassador program would be reviewed after the summer to determine its effectiveness and whether it will return next year.  

“There’s a possibility too that we’ll go to a year-round (program),” she said.

 

Andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca