The Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce has hired municipal councillor Sally Mole as its new executive director.
Chamber president Dian McCreary said seven applications were received and the chamber’s board whittled these down to a shortlist of three.
“The candidates presented very strongly with very different personalities and different talents so it was not an easy decision,” McCreary said.
“Sally has a lot of knowledge of both towns (Tofino and Ucluelet), she’s been involved in local politics, and she had a lot of the skills that were necessary, so we thought the transition would be easy.”
She said Mole’s position on Ucluelet’s council was considered in terms of possible conflicts of interest but the board was satisfied there would not be a problem. She added Tofino’s Gord Johns balanced both roles to the right of the junction when he sat on Tofino’s council and served as the Tofino chamber’s executive director.
“Johns held both positions at one point,” she said.
Mole’s first day on the job will be Aug. 25 and outgoing executive director Sue Payne has agreed to stay on until Sept. 15 to show her replacement the ropes.
“We feel that the training should go smoothly because Sally is so knowledgeable that it will be easy for Sue to pass the reins and fill her in,” McCreary said.
“It’s a very diverse job and it’s very fast paced and multifaceted… but I think she’s up to it.”
Payne announced her resignation from the position in late June citing a desire to spend more time with her family and start her own business.
Mole told the Westerly she is excited to hit the ground running.
“I felt it was a position that would make use of the skills that I have and offer me a challenge that I’m ready for and keep me involved in the community on a different kind of level,” she said.
She said she expects increasing the chamber’s membership and encouraging more membership involvement to be high on her initial task list.
“Financially there’s a challenge there and I’ve had good experience with grant writing so I’m hoping that experience will help,” she said adding she also plans to be “looking at the Pacific Rim Visitors Centre (PRVC) and how we can creatively make that work.”
Financial struggles recently caused the chamber to consider opting out of its lease at the PRVC but Ucluelet’s council voted 3-2 in favour of lowering the chamber’s monthly PRVC rent from $1,700 to $700 for the rest of the year to prevent this from happening. Mole was one of the two councillors opposed.
Mole said she spoke with Gord Johns about his experience serving both council and the chamber at the same time and he assured her it can be done.
“He was of the impression that it can be done (and) many people I talked to said it can be done,” Mole said noting she will spend several months at the chamber’s helm
before deciding whether to run for re-election to Ucluelet’s council later this year.
“It’s a good trial time because the election’s coming up in November; it will give me a taste of whether I can do both, whether it’s wise to do both, and then make that decision in October.”
She is stoked on bringing her abilities to the chamber’s table.
“It gives me something to sink my teeth into, I can make a difference here and I’m going to be able to use the things that I’m passionate about, and my energy, to really focus on making the chamber the best it can be,” she said.
“There’s opportunity to grow the economy here, we’ve got some great businesses established with more coming on and helping both the new businesses and existing businesses to help our economy grow is a great opportunity.”
She acknowledged her predecessor has left popular shoes to fill. “I’m a bit nervous about filling those shoes for sure but I’m lucky to have a great relationship with Sue (Payne) and she has already said that she’s there for being called on if I need her,” Mole said. “I know I can depend on her.”