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Tofino not backing out of Multiplex project for now

“I don’t want to take the risk of voting against, or having to vote against, something.”
This graph shows results from a recently conducted Alberni Clayoquot Regional District Survey.

The West Coast Multiplex Society is free to fundraise, but Tofino remains concerned about what exactly they’re fundraising for.

All eyes were on Tofino mayor Josie Osborne during a Feb. 16 West Coast Committee meeting as her council had passed a motion a week prior stating they would be asking the Society to revamp it’s proposed phased approach that calls for an ice rink to be built first and a swimming pool second.

“Where Tofino’s biggest concern lies is that a stand-alone ice rink is created that results in nothing else,” Osborne said during the meeting. “The challenge we have and the difference between the support from the two towns is that if it’s the understanding, or even the unsaid understanding, that it would be a stand alone ice rink first, and the hope of adding a pool later, that’s just not the direction that Tofino council wishes to go.”

Ucluelet’s council had passed a motion supporting the society’s current strategy, but Electoral Area C Director Tony Bennett said both Tofino and Ucluelet would need to be onboard for the project to work.

“It needs the agreement of all parties, especially the two largest tax bases for the region,” he said.

Osborne assured her council does not plan to back out of the project completely and suggested more conversations need to take place before a firm decision is made.

“I don’t want to take the risk of voting against, or having to vote against, something,” Osborne said. “I really take to heart the message that’s been loud and clear about the need to find regional collaboration on something. It’s just that, obviously, Tofino council isn’t convinced we’ve figured out what that is…I’m very loathe to go down a road that puts us at odds with each other or creates a dynamic between communities where resentment is built. I really want to press the pause button a little bit.”

Alberni Clayoquot Regional District CAO Douglas Holmes said if the society is successful in their fundraising efforts it would lead to starting construction on the facility, which could result in a difficult situation if Tofino doesn’t approve the project.

Osborne said her council would “cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Bennett addressed the society members present at the meeting and encouraged them to push forward.

“If the society can come back in six months or a year with a substantial amount of money that is committed to a project that may at this time be just an ice area, it will change the conversation in Tofino as well as around other communities,” he said.

“It may be of some disappointment to the society, but I think there is an opportunity…I will be interested to see what you will be able to put together this year.”

Multiplex Society Chair Samantha Hackett told the Westerly News after the meeting that the society recently met with both MLA Scott Fraser and MP Gord Johns and are ready to lobby for funding.

“They’re ready and we’re ready and this is really what we needed to start those conversations,” she said. “We are free to go ahead and fundraise.”

She added the society will continue to meet with the West Coast communities and that Tofino’s desire for a swimming pool would likely speed up phase two.

“Hopefully, Tofino’s obvious interest in the pool specifically will mean that phase two will happen faster,” she said.

“I think that means we have a good chance to have both of them in no time at all.”

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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