An online breakup that’s been brewing for two years is beginning to boil over.
In 2013, Ucluelet’s district office launched a revamped website that put itself, the local chamber of commerce and Tourism Ucluelet all under one domain name to create a one-stop-shop for community information ranging from bylaw enforcement to accommodation listings and vacation opportunities.
In 2015, Tourism Ucluelet announced it was splitting away from www.ucluelet.ca and moving to its own address to make it easier for potential visitors to plan their trips without having to navigate around municipal information.
Development of TU’s new site has been quiet since that announcement, but during the new business portion of Jan. 10’s regular council meeting, Coun. Randy Oliwa voiced concern over the void Tourism Ucluelet’s departure would leave.
“Our ucluelet.ca was originally formed as a portal. So, in it right now, it’s got a lot of money spent on the back end of it for accommodations,” Oliwa said.
“What originally happened was [district] staff propagated it with all the accommodations and businesses in the community and then business owners were given a username and password and you could go in and update your information.”
He said the accommodation section was a costly undertaking for the district that he doesn’t want to see go to waste.
“It was a lot of money spent back there and I think it would be a bit of a shame to see it just cut,” he said. “I’m not sure how we can move forward with that, I just wanted to bring it up.”
Coun. Marilyn McEwen agreed but suggested there would likely be pushback from Tourism Ucluelet.
“I do know that Tourism Ucluelet’s goal is to only have one set of accommodation businesses on a website and they really don’t want them to remain on the ucluelet.ca website,” she said.
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques suggested council set up a meeting with both the chamber of commerce and Tourism Ucluelet to bring everybody up to speed on the website changes.
“I’m a bit confused about this myself and how it’s all going to play out,” she said. “If the three stakeholders can get together and have a good discussion, that would be really helpful to us.”
The Westerly was unable to reach Tourism Ucluelet by presstime.
TU’s Denise Stys-Norman announced the destination marketing organization’s intention to leave ucluelet.ca during a Feb. 10, 2015, council meeting.
“We wanted to let council know that we are looking at constructing a brand new website that would work in conjunction with the current one in place, but would give Tourism Ucluelet a little bit more freedom to be able to market the community to its fullest extent,” she said.
Oliwa slammed the idea and blamed 2014’s municipal election for stunting communication between Ucluelet’s council and DMO. He added he was “blindsided” by TU’s decision.
“Bringing them all together under that one brand of ucluelet.ca, I thought, was brilliant,” he said.
During that same 2015 meeting, Coun. McEwen cautioned new websites carry high costs and launching one would swallow much of TU’s annual budget.