Ukee’s mayoral candidates tout strengths and envision future

Ucluelet’s two mayoral candidates laid out their strengths and goals during an all candidates meeting held at the community centre last week.

Incumbent mayor Bill Irving and challenger Dianne St. Jacques were asked about their strongest leadership attributes and where they planned to steer Ucluelet.

Irving cited his top strengths as being determined, creative and systematic.

“I’m determined to move forward on our strategy, on the issues that face this community, and nobody is going to slow us done,” he said.

He said he had put significant effort during his current term on developing strategies within the district office and at council’s table designed to “tackle issues systematically and get them accomplished.”

Irving served as Ucluelet’s mayor from 1990-1999 and from 2011 to the present.

He cited creativity as a valuable tool for building relationships with provincial and federal leaders who, he said, prefer receiving potential solutions rather than lists of problems.

“We take every opportunity to provide input and to provide solutions,” he said. “When you come to government, it’s easy to whine but you’re far more appreciated if you can bring solutions.”

St. Jacques said her leadership strengths stem from a pride in her community and as mayor she would be proud to represent Ucluelet at local, provincial, and federal tables.

“I’m pretty positive, I’m pretty energetic, I’m open, I’m honest, I’m forthright and I believe that I’m effective,” she said. “I’m a good listener, I’m very respectful, I think that’s very important, and I’m very welcoming; I welcome every opinion that there is and love to have discussions.”

The two were asked about their vision for Ucluelet and how they would make that vision a reality.

“The first thing that I envision is that we respect the place we live, the history, the environment, and the people,” Irving said. “Protection of the environment is a pretty important issue for our economy and one of my priorities.”

Irving said he would continue pursuing regional partnerships to help fulfill Ucluelet’s socioeconomic needs and that the current council had done a “remarkable” job presenting to local First Nations and Tofino in an effort “to move this West Coast forward.”

He said one of his favourite pursuits is ensuring Ucluelet is forefront in the minds of Provincial and Federal leaders.

“One I really enjoy is making sure everybody knows Ucluelet’s name,” he said. “Wherever we go we put Ucluelet’s stamp on every issue that affects us regionally, provincially and federally.”

St Jacques, who served as Ucluelet’s mayor from 1999-2008, laid out her vision for Ucluelet’s future.

“My vision for Ucluelet is a healthy and happy community full of people who have meaningful employment, good schools, good healthcare system and who can raise their families here or they can retire here in a warm and caring community,” she said. “I will execute that vision by listening to our community members, reviewing our official community plan in a timely manner and participating locally and regionally to present Ucluelet’s views and needs.”

She said economic success is a “constant work in progress,” and suggested community interests must come before business interests. “Whatever we do to attract businesses here in our community, it has to be beneficial to our community members. Whether it be jobs or a piece of infrastructure, it has to be meaningful to all of us as citizens; if it’s not then we won’t support it,” she said.