A gravel path is slated for this portion of Marine Drive between Peninsula Road to Edwards Place but local residents are trying to stop that path from happening.

Behest of the West: Patience needed on Ucluelet’s gravel path plan

Council needs to understand that giving the perfect gift brings a joy that’s worth waiting for.

It’s the thought that counts, but it’s the reaction that’s important.

Sandwiched between last weekend’s Midnight Madness and this weekend’s Jingle into Christmas has us smack dab in the thick of the most wonderful time of the year and we’re basking in the holiday cheer. Santa’s season is officially here.

Christmas is tough though. So are birthdays, anniversaries and housewarmings. Any time you have to buy anything for anybody, pressure mounts to find something that will make someone’s eyes light up. The most precious gift this season brings us is the feeling we get when we find the perfect gift. The evilest trick this season plays on us is swapping our excitement for disappointment when we discover that gift wasn’t perfect at all or, worse, not wanted at all.

Hearts break when packages open and eyes don’t light up.

Ucluelet’s council must have been so excited when they carefully wrapped the Marine Drive walkway we had been begging them to get us for years. I imagine they pictured our eyes lighting up and our hands clapping together as they unveiled their perfect gift to us. We’re not even feigning happiness. We’re demanding they take it back.

Every parent has been in their shoes. The tides of desire change rapidly. Treasures they tell you they need in November become trinkets they don’t want in December.  Being told what you got them wasn’t good enough and what they want is unaffordable is well-charted waters. We’ve all been there and we’ve all felt gut-punched while there. Our elected officials are giving us a perfect example of precisely how not to handle being there.

They need to check themselves before they wreck the relationship they have with their constituents.

Our district office was very clever to attach the path project to the Wild Pacific Trail. That move attracted a grant from ICE-T bringing $75,000 non-taxpayer dollars to a project council absolutely believed taxpayers wanted.

They’re doing their best to get us what we’ve been asking for while juggling a budget we keep a keen eye on. If it was just the thought that counted, they’d have it made. But, it’s the reaction that’s important and they’re barreling towards disaster by digging in and demanding we love what they got us while ignoring our cries to take it away.

A gravel path from Peninsula to Edwards would not only be a disaster, but an alarmingly and needlessly expensive one. It’s a steep hill equipped with enough driveways to ensure rocks will be thrown all over the place.

It will accomplish nothing other than increase the ire of the residents who begged council not to force it upon them. Erik Larsen was the first to send letters decrying the project months ago, but it was easy for council to ignore one voice rabble-rousing. They responded to him, weakly, all the while assuring the project would go ahead as planned. Nov. 22’s meeting attendance suggests the neighbourhood has united against a common cause.

Council has told us the path’s Edwards-Victoria portion would be paved immediately and the other side’s gravel section would be paved as soon as enough money could be found. It makes zero sense to stampede towards starting a project they can’t afford to finish yet. That grant won’t disappear if pause is pressed. ICE-T can’t get enough of the WPT and it’s in their best interest to see their money spent wisely.

That stretch of Marine is a big blind corner that summer fills with lost tourists trying to find Ucluelet’s largest resort. They’ve just come over the pass, and likely the hump. They’re tired. They’re cranky. They want to find their hotel and they’re in a hurry to get there.

A path is absolutely needed and would be wonderful to unwrap but our eyes won’t light up unless it’s done right. That will take time, but council needs to understand that giving the perfect gift brings a joy that’s worth waiting for.