Ucluelet’s mayoral candidates offered their thoughts on pipeline expansions and the power of Ucluelet’s voice at big decision making tables during last week’s all candidates meeting.
“I haven’t seen evidence in senior governments or industry that they’re serious about communities and the environment; so that’s a concern I have personally,” said incumbent mayor Bill Irving.
He said Ucluelet has not taken a formal stance on pipeline expansion and suggested engaging in a community forum to develop a community statement.
He added Ucluelet has lobbied hard for its Coast Guard property at Amphitrite Point to become a world-class oil spill response centre and suggested enough tanker traffic sails past Ucluelet currently for such a centre to be necessary regardless of expansions.
“There is tanker traffic today.
Show us world-class by bringing that asset onto the Coast today. We don’t have to wait for any expansion,” he said.
Mayoral challenger Dianne St. Jacques agreed.
“There are ships out there right now (and) we don’t have a good enough emergency plan in place,” she said. “The government needs to be hammered about that and they need to put a plan in place that we all feel comfortable with.”
She added more information must arrive before a sound decision can be reached.
“I know that they are building newer and bigger ships, double hulled and all the rest of it, but we need more education on that,” she said.
Each mayoral candidate responded to a follow up question that asked what Ucluelet could do as a small community to impact large decisions like pipeline expansions.
“We’ve made a good name for ourselves so we’ve got a lot of credibility and I think when we say something to the bigger players we have a stronger voice,” Irving said.
He said Ucluelet must make its position known and bring specific solutions and strategies to the table.
“We need to bring to the table not just a status quo or a clichÃƒÂ© kind of response,” he said. “Offer solutions, not just criticisms.”
St. Jacques said Ucluelet’s voice is strengthened through partnerships.
“The biggest strength that we have when we go out of our region, whether it’s talking about our environment or industry, is the partnerships that we have,” she said.
“We have worked over the years on those partnerships with Tofino, with the First Nations, (and) with the Regional District… If we can go together and move forward as a group, we’re effective.”