Rick Geddes started his new role as Ucluelet’s Fire Chief on May 13. Geddes, formerly the deputy chief at the Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Dept., will also oversee Ucluelet’s Emergency Program as well as fire inspections. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade welcomes new Chief

Ucluelet council briefs for May 14 meeting.

Deputy Fire Chief Mark Fortune of the Ucluelet Volunteer Fire Brigade introduced Ucluelet’s new Fire Chief Rick Geddes to mayor and council at May 14’s council meeting. Fortune said Geddes had “bomb proof references.”

He went on to thank freshly retired Fire Chief Ted Eeftink for dedicating 26 years to the UVFB, 11 of which he was at the helm. A celebration for Eeftink is in the works.

READ: Ucluelet hire first full-time Fire Chief

Network coverage on Hwy. 4

TELUS deployed seven small cells throughout Ucluelet at investment of $150k in 2016. In partnership with BC Ministry of Transportation, TELUS provided cellular and Wi-Fi hotspot at Taylor River rest stop in April 2019. (Graphic courtesy of TELUS)

Representatives from TELUS gave a presentation regarding the installation of emergency phones and cell towers on Highway 4.

“The major investment we made so far is the Wi-Fi Hotspot at Taylor River rest stop, and that’s a partnership we made with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation,” said TELUS general manager for Vancouver Island Shaye Draper.

He went on to say that there is a large section along Highway 4 that has zero coverage.

“I think people can understand the cost to be able to bring services to some of these areas. If you wanted connectivity all the way down, you would need about four cell towers, which ball park is about $1-million per cell tower. It is extremely pricey,” said Draper, adding that an important factor to moving forward on the infrastructure upgrade will be partnering with government.

Mayor Noel suggested Kennedy Lake Hill as a possible location for a second Wi-Fi Hot Spot. A member of the community also recommended the top of Sutton Pass and at the end of Kennedy River where it runs into Kennedy Lake as additional locations.

“If we can [install] one or two more, that would add a certain level of comfort,” said Noel. “Unfortunately, with cellular now, it’s like having clean water. Everybody wants that extra level of security, especially for emergency response.”

Telus has not been engaged in any meaningful dialogue regarding installing emergency phones along Highway 4, noted Draper. He said Wi-Fi Hotspots like Taylor River would be a more robust solution. Telus will partner with District of Ucluelet staff to develop a strategyto bring better coverage along Highway 4.

Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods Staff Housing

Council unanimously carried a motion to consider issuing a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) for seasonal employee housing in up to 25 RV’s on the property at 1970 Harbour Crescent.

The TUP is subject to public input and to the applicant, Ucluelet Harbour Seafoods, providing more detailed plans of their proposal. A more detailed site layout showing a fire access lane, a registered onsite wastewater practitioner report, an engineer’s plan confirming adequate services, and confirming dates of the seasonal operation were cited as additional materials required for the proposal to move forward.

“What I do like is that there can be conditions placed on the permit regarding noise and quiet time and whether it becomes a nuisance for bylaw,” said Noel.

Councillor Kemps said she was happy to see this TUP come forward, but was concerned about the drain it would have on bylaw or fire services. She suggested having a security deposit held for the TUP.

Big Read: Fish processors casting a wide net to overcome employment challenges

Marine Drive rezoning application denied

A request to change the principal use of a Marine Drive property from single family dwelling to a vacation rental use was not approved by mayor and council.

“It’s not about the applicant, but about the land use,” said Noel.

Councillor Kemps said it would change the dynamics of the community if the short-term rental permit was issued. Councillor Cole and Hoar concurred.

Councillor McEwen, who owns a vacation rental, was in favour of approving the request.

RELATED: Ucluelet’s municipal council rejects vacation rental zoning request on Odyssey Lane

Single-use plastic bylaw

A motion for the District of Ucluelet Single-use Plastic Regulation Bylaw No. 1247, 2019 be given a third reading was unanimously carried by mayor and council.

The new bylaw, which bans single-use checkout plastic bags and plastic drinking straws, is set to be adopted on May 28. Surfrider Pacific Rim chapter co-ordinator Verónika Miralles Sánchez said the vast majority of the business community has been supportive.

“One of the concerns that came forward was with bubble tea plastic straws. We recognize it is a harder one to find a good solution for, so we are going to be working with that particular business to find a way to help them find a better solution,” said Sánchez during the May 14 meeting.

“Things are happening very fast. Montreal is eliminating single-use plastics. The European Union is eliminating single-use plastic takeaway by the year 2025. There are a number of coastal states and coastal countries that are eliminating single-use plastics because it is the only way to keep their beaches clean. It’s the way of the future and I think there is going to be a lot of technological changes that will support businesses going forward,” said Sánchez, adding that if any businesses are struggling with the changes, Surfrider Pacific Rim is there to help.

RELATED: Ucluelet’s new mayor and council get to work on restricting single-use plastics

Scotch Broom Discussed

Mayor Noel encouraged everyone to help out on Sunday, May 26 at the fifth annual Sweep the Town of Broom event. The effort kicks off at 11 a.m. at Ucluelet’s ANAF. Councillor Hoar said the most effective way to eliminate the invasive plant is to cut it at ground level while it is in bloom, rather than pulling it up.

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