Nine of the ten District of Ucluelet councillor candidates up for election participated in an all-candidates forum on Tuesday: Jeff Anderson, Rachelle Cole, Jennifer Hoar, Andy Horne, Courtney Johnson, Lara Kemps, Marilyn McEwen, Myles Morrison, and Jesse Wilts. Candidate Ted Bailey did not attend.
Ucluelet will elect four candidates to sit on council and one mayor through an Advanced Voting Day on Oct. 10 and a General Voting Day on Oct. 20.
During Tuesday night’s forum, candidates had two-minutes to respond to a range of questions, from affordable housing and transportation to the West Coast Multiplex and sidewalks.
Incumbent McEwen and candidate Morrison pointed out that Peninsula Road is actually considered part of Highway 4.
“We can get money from the provincial government. As your councillor, I would definitely push for sidewalks on [Peninsula],” said Morrison.
“I think there could be a lot of improvements and I know there are some crosswalks coming in the very near future on Peninsula Rd. so hopefully the department of highways will see fit to put a little bit more money into helping us get our road a little bit nicer because it is our entrance into town,” McEwen said.
Providing better support to youth in our region was an issue several candidates addressed with passion.
“I would continue to fight for and support the growth of youth based programs,” said Johnson. “It is monumental that funding for these programs continue so that our next generation of Ucluetians feel a sense of pride in the place they call home.”
Kemps spoke out.
“I know first hand that youth need to be inspired and motivated. If elected, I will involve the youth in a larger capacity and work directly with them through the schools and our parks and rec department to better include them in our community vision,” said Kemps.
Horne said he is a huge supporter of the West Coast Multiplex project.
“I have two little boys. An ice arena would be a huge boon for them. I think it would be a huge boon for the whole area,” he said.
“I’m all for a Multiplex. I enjoy all the things they have to offer. I have a young family and I do see the need for something around here,” said Anderson. “But, what I know from my past, they are very expensive to operate. It’s one thing to build it, but the operation costs are [high] and then you have to staff it. There are a lot of things that would have to come together.”
Wilts, a retired Air Force officer with a Masters Degree in defense management, said he would apply all of his education and acumen towards ensuring the Multiplex project goes according to plan.
“Financial analysis. Forecasting and projections. Cost analysis. The ‘what ifs’ too. The unexpected costs that can arise that can really sink a project or even bankrupt a community. Big projects can be high risk when it comes to your financial stability,” said Wilts.
Candidate Hoar stated that providing safe transportation between towns, and ultimately the proposed Multiplex destination, is needed.
“Let’s get a shuttle going,” said Hoar, who holds a PhD in Marine Biology. “I remember a number of years ago there was a version of the beach bus. It ran through the summer. It was a pilot project and it stopped in Ucluelet, Tofino, Esowista and along the beach. It would be really nice if we could get that back in some way shape or form. A bus that runs rarely is better than no bus as all.”
Candidate Cole, a third generation Ucluetian and the B.C. Ambulance Unit Chief for Ucluelet, tied off the all-candidates forum in her closing speech.
“High level output. I know we need to grow and move forward. Balance to thrive. That means we need to take care of the details to maintain and revitalize and continue to hold close the Ucluelet that I have known for 46 years,” said Cole.
Ucluelet’s four candidates for mayor will speak at a seperate forum on Wednesday night at the USS band room at 7 p.m.