The iconic landscapes offered by the Wild Pacific Trail has changed the landscape of Ucluelet, both recreationally and economically. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Ucluelet local receives Meritorious Service Medal for Wild Pacific Trail vision

“Jim was repeatedly told that this trail was impossible but he never took no for an answer.”

The mind that conjured Ucluelet’s Wild Pacific Trail has received one of the nation’s highest honours for his creation.

‘Oyster’ Jim Martin was honoured with a Meritorious Service Medal from Canada’s Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnson, at a ceremony held at Ottawa’s Rideau Hall on June 23.

“The Meritorious Service Decorations were established to recognize the extraordinary people who make Canada proud,” according to a media release from Rideau Hall’s press office.

“Their acts are often innovative, set an example or model for others to follow, or respond to a particular challenge faced by a community. The best candidates are those who inspire others through their motivation to find solutions to specific and pressing needs or provide an important service to their community or country.”

Martin was recognized for his innovative efforts to create the now famous trail that spans 12-kilometres of rocky coastline and rainforest.

“His efforts have since transformed the local economy, drawing thousands of nature lovers to the area each year,” the release states.

Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques told the Westerly News that Martin has “had such a positive impact on the community,” and his commitment has been invaluable.

‘The trail really grounds us in Ucluelet and I can’t emphasize enough the all around positive impact that Jim and his drive and determination has had,” she said. “Jim could see it before any of us here could envision it. He saw it in his mind and he did not let go of that vision and he just continued and continued until it came to life and I can’t think of any other community in anyplace anywhere that has had one person impact them so positively. It’s really quite amazing.”

Barbara Schramm of the Wild Pacific Trail Society told the Westerly the society is “so proud of Jim” and inspired by his determination to see the trail through.

“Jim was repeatedly told that this trail was impossible but he never took no for an answer,” she said. “This treasure of a trail would not exist without his persistence and vision. Kilometres of coastline would be built over and lost to the public. And we are still working to expand and protect coastlines for the future; so, as Jim likes to say, ‘You haven’t seen anything yet.’”

Schramm added that Martin’s award is an impressive and valuable accolade for the trail itself.

“This award is important because it highlights how much impact a trail with big goals can make,” she said. “National recognition will help the trail society to raise funds for an education centre with interpretive programs to enrich people’s connection to nature on our wild coastline. Anything is possible if you focus on what you love.”

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce president Dian McCreary told the Westerly that the Wild Pacific Trail has become a world class destination, that attracts thousands of visitors to the community each year, and a consistent churner of economic activity in Ucluelet.

“Not only tourism businesses reap the benefits of increased tourism, but all businesses benefit,” she said.

She added the activity generated by the trail has allowed local businesses to employ more people and boosted the dollars flowing through town year-round.

“The spin off economics can also be seen in the service sector, and building and trades,” she said. “The Wild Pacific Trail is a huge asset to our community and businesses. How lucky are we to have this jewel in our community? The Chamber thanks ‘Oyster’ Jim and the stewardship of the Wild Pacific Trail Society.”

St. Jacques added the visitorship the trail produces helps spread Ucluelet’s reputation around the globe.

“The economic impact has been significant. People come here now to walk the trail and when they leave our community they talk to others about the trail and the beauty and the peace that they get when they’re out there,” she said.

She said the Wild Pacific Trail has also boosted Ucluelet’s quality of life for locals by putting a spotlight on the area’s beauty.

“It’s given the community pride in the trail and where we live,” she said. “It’s reinforced, every time we’re out there, how amazingly lucky we are to live here and to be able to show our guests that visit our community what our life is like and how blessed we are.”

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