When Sponsors Rock

From Easter eggs to iconic statues, the West Coast’s local governments rely on a little help from their locals.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s Beggars Checklist suggests local governments should look to corporate and citizen sponsorships whenever possible to save on taxdollar spending.

When it comes to the West Coast’s relatively small taxbase, here may not be a stadium to sell naming rights to, but the list of other beneficiaries is long. Events-and in some cases structures-hosted in Tofino and Ucluelet are made possible by a community of corporate and citizen sponsors eager to give back and pitch in.

The most recent example of the value Ucluelet’s corporate and citizen sponsors bring to the table was Sunday’s East egg hunt at Big Beach.

Ucluelet’s Black Rock Resort has been supplementing the Easter Bunny’s offerings with about 5,000 Easter treats running a tally of about $1,000 each year.

“It’s something we earmark every year to make happen,” said Black Rock’s general manager Adele Larkin. “We do it because we think it’s a great way to engage the community in something that’s fun and it brings all the kids out and the families out together and shows our support.”

The district gave $200 in support of the event this year with the rest of the funds coming from a sponsorship list boasting about 16 corporate and citizen sponsors.

“This annual event allows Black Rock as well as other businesses to show the families of this community how much they are appreciated. Without their daily support the businesses in this community would struggle, Larkin said.

“We appreciate our locals and this is a way for us to give back while enjoying the excitement of the young people as they find all the hidden treasures on the beach.”

Larkin noted the West Coast offers a huge variety of events throughout the year that would not be possible on the district’s dollar alone.

“Being such a small community that we are, the district only has so much funding to go around,” she said.

“We do rely on the business community and individuals in the community to help support and keep it going because there just isn’t enough funding from a district level to support all of the events that we do here as a community and they are all important.”

She said it is important for West Coast businesses like Black Rock Resort to contribute.

“If you are a responsible corporate citizen then that means you walk the talk with everything that you do and not only are you there to help contribute financially when you can but you’re also there to help support when there’s need.”

Karla Anderson embraced Black Rock’s sponsorship of the Easter egg hunt when she was an employee at the resort and she carried it forward by adding her business Ocean Pet Supplies to the event’s sponsor list.

“It’s so much fun and it’s so great for the community,” she said.

“This is what I love about Ucluelet; it’s a really great community and even people like myself who don’t have kids are there for the community for all the kids to have fun and it’s pretty awesome to see all their smiling faces running around finding candy and winning prizes.”

Being a sponsor for the Easter Egg hunt was a no-brainer for Anderson and she jumped at the opportunity to support the community that supports her.

“It’s just me being able to support my community because the community supports me by shopping locally,” she said. Larkin said Anderson’s “ongoing support and enthusiasm for this event has been incredible.”

In Tofino, a group of corporate and citizen sponsors have raised over 50 per cent of the roughly $27,000 needed to bring the Weeping Cedar Woman statue back to the West Coast.

Artist Godfrey Stephens took just two weeks to carve the roughly 6.4 metre Weeping Cedar Woman statue that became an iconic figure in the 1984 Meares Island logging protest.

She had since moved to Salt Spring Island but a coalition of local supporters pushed for her return and were able to celebrate with her at the 30th anniversary of the Meares Island Tribal Park designation held at the Tofino community hall on Sunday.

The travel-cost to bring her from Victoria to Tofino for the 30th anniversary event tallied about $1,500.

Tofino’s municipal council has been clear that no tax-dollars would be spent on the statue’s return and instead relied entirely on corporate and citizen sponsors to make it happen.

During last week’s regular council meeting, Coun. Dorothy Baert commended the local efforts that brought the statue back to Tofino.

“There’s been a lot of energy and effort by a number of people,” she said. “This is what we want people in the community to do; to work with council to bring forward ideas. We spent a lot of money doing the arts culture and heritage master plans and in those plans there’s definite direction to council about supporting these kinds of things.”

Coun. Al Anderson was impressed by the magnitude of the group’s fundraising efforts. “I think it took much longer to raise $15,000 for the (Tuff City) Skate Park than it took to raise money for this,” he said. “Despite the fact that there’s some people that don’t support (the statue) in the community, there’s obviously strong and demonstrated-with-cash support for it.”

Mayo Josie Osborne echoed Anderson’s accolades. “I want to acknowledge the significant work that this group of people has done and that they have raised all of this money, independent of any tax money. All of the work has been done by them to date.”