Tofino’s municipal council has invited the West Coast Pool Society to present at a future council meeting after determining the group was given too cold a shoulder by the Tofino Recreation Commission.
The recreation commission is an advisory group that provides input and suggestions to council.
Commission members are appointed by council and are mandated under a bylaw adopted in 1996 to: “consider, formulate and recommend policies and procedures to the Council regarding the operation of recreational services, special events, and associated cultural programs and services for the community.”
The pool society presented their pitch during the commission’s April 20 meeting but, after reviewing the minutes from that meeting, some members of Tofino’s council expressed disappointment at the way the society was received.
According to the minutes, the society suggested a pool is essential for recreational safety in Tofino’s coastal community but were told by the commission that a 2008 feasibility study determined a pool would be too expensive for the community to afford.
The society asked if Tofino had grown enough since that study to support a pool but were told local taxes would need to go up by 48 per cent to make it happen.
Coun. Cathy Thicke did not believe the society was treated fairly. She noted the district is working on a potential indoor recreation facility and suggested the society’s opinions could be infused into that work.
“I was unhappy with the report,” she said.
“If we’re looking at, for example, an indoor recreation space surely their question should not be ignored and I think their question should be rightfully considered in the overall questionnaire that we’re supposedly formulating and giving to the public.”
She suggested council invite the society to present as a delegation to council and council agreed to send out an invite.
“I’d like to hear what they have to say and what they’ve planned. Maybe they’ve planned something completely different than has ever been envisioned here before,” Thicke said.
“It’s a whole new group of people and I really think we should find out what they are intending and I would like to invite them here and I’d also like to include that question as part of the larger survey that we’re intending to do.”
Coun. Dorothy Baert agreed and said she was disheartened by the commission’s meeting minutes.
“When I read things like that and I hear people come forward with a community interest and then, kind of, get shut down…I find it discouraging,” she said. “I think there ought to be a bit more rigor. I’m disappointed.”
Mayor Josie Osborne suggested council hear staff’s take on the commission meeting before “jumping to any strong, strong conclusions,” and asked community sustainability manager Aaron Rodgers to comment.
Rodgers said the commission welcomed the society’s presentation and the society was treated fairly.
“We’d previously provided them with the feasibility study from 2008, which has all the costs for what a pool would cost,” he said adding some commission members joined over 20 years ago with the key intention to deliver a pool to the community.
“The commission also provided some ideas that might work. We talked about partnering with a new resort, we talked about a regional pool at the airport; we had a number of discussions. These folks weren’t shut down and sent away, they were provided with some more information and asked to come sit at the commission to see their goals realized.”
Rodgers suggested the meeting’s minute might not have captured the essence of the conversation and assured he would reach out to the society and invite them to speak to council.
“What the commission did, and I think was their role, was to put some reality to the situation,” he said.
“A lot of times, folks come by and they want a monorail; but a monorail costs a lot of money and we have to have that conversation.”