Ucluelet candidates talk infrastructure

Ucluelet’s tourist economy puts a strain on its local infrastructure and with an influx of young families moving into town, locals are wondering how their local government can best manage its assets.

During the public question period of last week’s all candidates meeting, local Mike Rhodes said Ucluelet has seen an increase in incoming young families and asked how the district would prioritize infrastructure that caters to them.  

“We have some fantastic parks and some great playgrounds in our town but we also have entire neighborhoods that don’t have any,” he said.

Marilyn McEwen spoke to her time on Ucluelet’s recreation commission and said the parks and recreation master plan formalized last year identified a need for parks in specific neighborhoods where there currently are none.

“That process is in the works with the recreation department,” she said.

Incumbent Sally Mole was hesitant about taking on too many projects at once.

“What I would like to see, ideally, is that we finish our parks projects that we’ve already started…let’s finish one thing at a time before we start band-aiding other things,” she said.

“We’ve got a skate park that is so close to being done; it’s going to take some big bucks but I’d like to get that done and then look across the road at our bike park, what are we doing there? Lets deal with that before we start on something new.”

She suggested local families could kick off grassroots initiatives and take the lead on park projects in their neighborhoods.

Incumbent Dario Corlazzoli said having good planning and solid bylaws in place would help the district ensure new developments came with new community amenities.  

He said Ucluelet should lay out firm guidelines for sidewalks and parks when developers come in to build.

“Those are some of the amenities that the developer will provide for the community…We should be relying on developers to do that,” he said.

“As we develop our strategy and our policy that’s where we communicate better with developers so they know what to expect so we don’t end up with areas that are short with amenities.”

Candidates were also asked about the specific challenges Ucluelet’s tourist economy puts on local infrastructure.

Mayco Noel suggested the district should work to get the best bang for its buck by protecting its infrastructure through proper maintenance.

He spoke to Ucluelet’s UAC Hall and Seaplane Base Rec. Hall.

“Those are both buildings which could be a bit of a burden to the district as time goes on as we’re not dealing with some of the issues that they have,” he said.

He said Ucluelet’s potential community forest might bring in revenue that could cover the cost of a joint UAC Hall and Rec. Hall in the future.

He suggested roadwork should be looked into to ensure smooth traffic flow, especially during Ucluelet’s busy summer months.

“Traffic flow, particularly in front of the chamber’s office there (1604 Peninsula), is a little bit confusing,” he said.  

He added parking is an issue and noted the district does not own much real estate in its downtown core to work with.

He said the district should also look into taking ownership of residential properties currently owned by Parks Canada.

“Taking possession of that would be a nice asset for the community going further down the road,” he said.

Oliwa spoke to the pressure Ucluelet’s tourist season puts on the district’s water supply. “We have a huge influx of tourists and visitors during our summer season and it also happens to coincide with our driest period,” he said.

“That’s a challenge for the municipality and its infrastructure; maintaining that and maintaining fire services at the same time.”

He cited expanding Ucluelet’s busy season as a potential solution and said higher learning initiatives could be a key draw for off-season visitors.

“We’re super close on targeting the education economy for Ucluelet,” he said. 
“We’ve been working really hard on that. I know we’re close; we’re looking at rolling something out here over the next couple of months.”

He added an education economy would tie in perfectly with Ucluelet’s season.

“If we can tap into the education economy and fill up our accommodations better, and any staff housing that’s available, in our off-season—October through March—it’s going to result in increased revenue for the municipality,” he said.

“What we need to do is continue to communicate, continue to engage the community, continue to get everybody informed, and I think we can see our off-season flourish in Ucluelet.”

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

reporter@westerlynews.ca