A seemingly unrelated proclamation has shed light on Ucluelet’s wariness of Canada’s 150th birthday celebration.
During Jan 10’s regular meeting, Ucluelet’s council reviewed a letter from Vancouver Island and Coast Conservation Society president Laurie Gourlay asking them to proclaim Dec. 11 as a ‘Day for our Common Future’ in an effort to promote action on climate change.
“Every year we see an increasing interest, and recognition of the achievements for sustainable development which the World Commission on Environment and Development first advanced with publication of the book ‘Our Common Future,” Gourlay wrote.
“We see local governments and communities working hard to implement the pragmatic application of sustainable development…with senior governments integrating policies and programs.”
Coun. Sally Mole said she agreed with the philosophy behind the proclamation, but couldn’t get behind it right away because Goulay’s letter mentioned Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation as an extra reason to celebrate.
“I’ve been hearing a bit of pushback with some of the First Nations populations about the 150th anniversary,” she said.
“We’ve got lots of time to make the proclamation, so I would like to hear from other people and other municipalities on how that’s rolling out for them and if there is any concern. I could be completely wrong, but I am hearing a bit of pushback from our First Nation neighbours.”
Councillors Marilyn McEwen and Randy Oliwa both voted in favour of the proclamation, but Coun. Mayco Noel and Mayor Dianne St. Jacques joined Mole’s opposition and defeated the motion.
Oliwa questioned where Mole’s thoughts were coming from.
“I’m just a little confused,” he said. “I, 100 per cent, support all First Nations and I didn’t hear any of that, that you’re referring to…Who’s going to do the follow up that ties this proclamation into the anti-150th movement?”
Mole asked if district staff could investigate the issue and report back to council on what other municipalities are doing.
St. Jacques questioned if other municipalities were the right source for information.
“I’m not sure what we could gather because, if the concern is around First Nation’s acceptance of the 150th anniversary, it might be more of that, that we might need rather than what other municipalities are doing,” she said. “It might be better for us to do the work on it.”
Streetlights need changing
Ucluelet’s council is wondering how many staff members it takes to change a lightbulb.
Coun. Randy Oliwa raised a motion, unanimously approved by council, to direct district staff to pay closer attention to the streetlights throughout town.
Oliwa said there were concerns raised over Christmas that several streetlights had burnt out and had not been addressed.
“I know that this time of year you’re going to get that anywhere, but I think staff needs to be a little bit more proactive,” he said. “I’d like to see the streetlights that are out…fixed and relit as soon as possible.”
Coun. Mayco Noel agreed.
“It’s been something I’ve brought up for the last couple years,” he said.
He added it would be easy for staff to drive around at 6 p.m. looking for burned out bulbs.
“It’s not driving down Peninsula Road or Bay Street, it’s going up Blueberry [Hill]….Half of those lights work,” he said adding residents had also raised concern around St. Jacques Blvd.
“If there’s beautiful light poles up there and it’s dark 16 hours a day, we should make sure that they’re working properly,” he said.
Rural education strategy
Ucluelet will add its opinions to an incoming education strategy.
B.C.’s Ministry of Education is reviewing its rural education practices and funding and is gathering feedback from local governments and community organizations to put a Rural Education Strategy in place by the end of 2017’s school year.
Deputy minister Jacqueline Dawes wrote a letter to Uclulet’s municipal council dated Dec. 21 that lays out the type of feedback the province is looking for and reminding them that the deadline for input is Jan. 31.
“All feedback received will help shape the final report and the development of recommendations for the future,” the letter reads. “The main goal is to find long-term solutions for the unique challenges facing rural school districts, while considering the important social, cultural and economic roles that schools play for small communities.”
Coun. Randy Oliwa offered to draw up a draft statement and circulate it around council.
“We could add, delete, edit and make sure we get a statement on rural education that represents all of Ucluelet council,” he said adding the letter would need to be submitted by Jan. 31.
Coun. Sally Mole agreed but wondered if a window could be opened for public feedback and noted Dawes’ letter states, “I hope that you will spread the word amongst your communities.’
“I’m wondering if that gives the average resident a chance for input,” she said of Oliwa’s plan.
Mole suggested spreading the ministry’s rural education feedback form at engage.gov.bc.ca/ruraleducation throughout the district’s various social media platforms.
Council agreed to have Oliwa draft a letter and circulate it through council but Mayor Dianne St. Jacques cautioned her councillors to attach solutions to any criticisms.
“I think we have to keep in mind that the main goal is to find longterm solutions for the unique challenges,” she said. “It’s not an opportunity to go out and complain, but to offer solutions for what our problems are.”