Ucluelet’s Ukee Days festivities wrapped up with the crowning of the Ucluelet’s citizen, volunteer and business of the year last Sunday.
Every year, locals vote for the community stars who shone extra brightly and this year’s voters pegged Marcel Midlane for top citizen, Geoff Lyons for top volunteer and Brian and Kathleen Congdon’s Subtidal Adventures and Gray Whale Deli as joint businesses of the year.
Citizen of the Year nominees were John Miller, Ian Riddick and Midlane, who Ucluelet chamber of commerce Vice President Cathy Whitcomb announced as the winner during Sunday’s ceremony.
“Marcel deserves this award very, very, much,” she said. “The nominations that have come in for him have been consistent with their praise for him as a community leader, as an RCMP officer and as an all around good guy.”
She added the Midlane family has been a solid asset to the community since arriving in 2012.
“We hope that Marcel and his family are here for a long time because they are an absolute attribute to the school system and those of us who live here everyday,” she said.
Midlane told the Westerly news he was “excited” and “surprised” by the announcement.
“I’m overjoyed that people felt that way about me,” he said.
“I was surprised because there are many people who are just as deserving, if not more, than me to win this honour and I’m overwhelmed that people would recognize me for being a part of the community.”
Midlane is a constable with the local RCMP detachment and said his commitment to community-minded policing meshes well with his commitment to the community as a whole.
“We’re surrounded by many caring people and caring families and we’re very fortunate to live in such a beautiful place,” he said. “There’s so many great people here and it’s such a great town to be part of.”
He said his wife Carrie and children Caitlyn, 9, Caleb, 7, and Mason, 5, love living in Ucluelet and support his community-bettering efforts.
“There’s a lot of days where I spend long hours not at home,” he said adding his days off from work are often spent on camping trips and events with local youth.
“My wife is very supportive and awesome,” he said. “Without her support, I wouldn’t be able to do the job I do and be involved so much in the community. She’s the rock.”
Brian and Kathleen Congdon’s Subtidal Adventures and Gray Whale Deli bested fellow nominees In-Style Snuggle Bunnies and Raven Lady Oyster Forte for Ucluelet’s top business prize.
“They have been in business here for a very very long time and are anchors in the community,” Whitcomb said of the Congdons.
“We cannot thank them enough for all they do for the community.”
She added Subtidal Adventures and Gray Whale Deli help buoy Ucluelet’s solid reputation as a tourist destination.
“There’s so much to say about them; but what’s been revealed in the last little while is the people who are serving the public in town, the young visitor information people, have brought it to the attention of us that they are just a fabulous company to work with,” she said.
“They have tourists come back into the info centre and tell them what a great, absolutely amazing trip they had with this guy Brian.”
Kathleen told the Westerly News she and Brian enjoy supporting the community they love.
“We’ve worked hard in the community and we enjoy being here,” she said.
“We enjoy supporting the community by giving back. To us, giving back to the community is part of our mission.”
She thanked Ucluelet for its support.
“We’d like to thank the community for voting Subtidal Adventures and Gray Whale Deli businesses of the year as a pair,” she said.
“With the support of the West Coast communities, we’ve been able to serve and give back for almost 40 years. We enjoy seeing our neighbours everyday and hosting visitors from around the world.”
She added Ucluelet’s strong community spirit is its lifeblood.
“Ucluelet has grown substantially since we moved here and we really feel that it’s the community that helps everybody grow,” she said. “We really like to see everybody working together. Working together makes a better place to live.”
Ucluelet Mayor Dianne St. Jacques announced Geoff Lyons as Volunteer of the Year over fellow nominees Ian Riddick and John Miller.
“Geoff has lived here for many years and he’s been a volunteer since day one,” St. Jacques said. “Congratulations Geoff and thanks for everything you do for the community.”
Lyons told the Westerly News he was “flattered” and “humbled” to receive the award.
He said he signs up to help wherever he can because of the support he’s received from the community since moving here in 1984.
“I’ve gained so much from Ucluelet and want to pay back to Ucluelet,” he said.
“Ucluelet’s been great and I just want to help when I can.”
He said he enjoys helping local kids stay active through volunteering with various sports activities and has found rewarding experiences helping the West Coast Multiplex Society and local community forest initiative.
“There’s so much reward and, the fact is, I don’t need to tell people that; Ucluelet is renowned for being the volunteer capital of the world,” he said.
“There’s so many people out here that just give their whole. It’s a friendly community where people know each other…You walk the streets and you know people and they know you and you know if you need help from anybody they’re there and they’ll step forward.”