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Tofino and Ucluelet to share building inspector

“It was recognized, I think, that it wasn’t working out with the regional district.”
A new building inspector will work out of Tofino but split their time with Ucluelet.

Neighbours who care about each other share with one another and sharing saves money.

A building boom is hammering away in Tofino and Ucluelet prompting both districts to enter into a unique partnership that will see them sharing a building inspector.

Neither community currently has a building inspector. Ucluelet terminated the position from its payroll in 2012 and Tofino followed suit in 2015.

Both have contracts with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District that allows them to use Port Alberni-based inspectors, but those inspectors’ trips to the West Coast have been too few and far between, according to local builders, who say delays and inconsistencies have left developments in the lurch.

The shared inspector will officially be a member of Tofino’s staff and is expected to spend three days in Tofino and two in Ucluelet, according to Tofino’s manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers told the Westerly News the hiring process is nearing completion and a candidate is expected to be chosen and in place within the month.

The inspector’s salary will be based on a 35-hour week at roughly $39 an hour, along with full union benefits, with Tofino covering roughly three-fifths of the cost and Ucluelet handling the remainder.

He said “building has been incredibly busy over the past couple of years,” since Tofino terminated its former-inspector and added that sharing staff could become a trend on the peninsula because sharing a position helps ensure a full-time workload.

“It’s hard to hire somebody part-time, especially if you want quality candidates,” he said. “It helps in attracting people to these communities.”

News of a new building inspector was music to the ears of Ucluelet’s local builders, who were invited to a special council meeting in Ucluelet on April 3 and did not mince words when it came to the barriers created without a local inspector.

Lyle Morrow said he has emailed, texted and phoned ACRD inspectors and had frustrating troubles making appointments and added wait times can lead to rising bills for homeowners.

“So now a homeowner’s paying for construction insurance for a month longer. They may have to be paying rent somewhere for a month longer. It’s really important that we have an inspector we could talk to…Even if it was someone just in town that we could phone and talk to.”

Ucluelet’s Planner 1 John Towgood said the ACRD’s inspectors are struggling to keep up with an abundant workload.

“They’re struggling and it’s getting worse,” he said.

Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques agreed.

“It was recognized, I think, that it wasn’t working out with the regional district,” she said.

Tofino initially had a hard time finding a candidate because of the local housing crunch, according to Towgood.

“That’s the problem,” he said adding a well-qualified applicant was found but couldn’t make the move.

“They accepted the job and then they looked and they couldn’t find accommodation.”

He added another applicant, a Level 3 inspector out of Victoria, could work out and has temporary accommodations in Ucluelet.

“We selected somebody and they’ve accepted verbally,” he said. “We haven’t signed a contract. So, I can’t say we have this for sure.”

Coun. Mayco Noel asked Towgood how secure Ucluelet’s two-day share was expressed concern over Tofino might end up filling the inspector’s schedule.

“I’d hate to see it reassessed back to one day [a week] in six months,” he said.

Towgood responded that he could work with the language of the contract to ensure two days in Ucluelet.

“We have a really great relationship with Tofino,” he said. “I can’t see any problems.”

Local builder Matt Harbidge suggested a meeting be held so that local builders could meet the new inspector and be brought up to speed on expectations as well as recent changes to the B.C. Building Code.

“It’s crazy how fast things are changing and how much money these changes are actually costing,” he said. “It’s not a couple hundred dollars here and there. It’s $5,000, $10,000, $15,000.”

St. Jacques said an introductory workshop to get the new inspector and local builders on the same page was a solid idea.

Rodgers said sharing an inspector means the two districts will likely need to synchronize expectations.

“It’s been really great to work with John [Towgood] and trying to standardize some of our process and administrative tasks so we’re both on the same page and possibly trying to align our building bylaws as well,” he said. “So, from one community to another, all the builders will be brought pretty much under the same rules.”

Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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