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Behest of the West: Higher salaries should earn higher effort in Ucluelet

When Ucluelet’s council showed up for Jan. 10’s meeting, they were walking a dog without a bag in their pocket.
Whether you're walking your dog or discussing your community's future

Effort has an inverse relationship with angst.

It’s why neighbours who don’t pick up their dogs’ poop draw so much ire. There’s no reason for them to leave a mess for someone else to pick up, there’s simply a lack of effort on their part. They participated in the dog-walking, but were too lazy do it properly.

When Ucluelet’s council showed up for Jan. 10's meeting, they were walking a dog without a bag in their pocket.

If you haven’t read page 8 of this paper yet, consider this your spoiler alert. You’ll get more from the following by heading there first.

On Dec. 13, council discussed an application that would allow a residence and two guesthouses to be built on a Hyphocus Island property. Coun. Randy Oliwa suggested the town’s Official Community Plan restricts tree-removal on Hyphocus, but council was unclear about what those restrictions were and moved ahead anyway.

The OCP does identify Hyphocus as environmentally sensitive and prohibits the removal of any native tree species that are 30 centimetres Dbh or more. Dbh means ‘Diameter at breast height;’ essentially 1.3 metres from the ground.

It took me less than five minutes to look that up. I typed, ‘Ucluelet, OCP’ into Google, clicked the first link, and the 138-page document immediately downloaded and appeared. I typed ‘Hyphocus’ into the search bar and presto. I was noshing on a delicious peach-ginger muffin from Huckleberry’s the entire time. I didn’t even need to put it down. Full disclosure, I also had to look up what Dbh means, but I’m including that rigorous work in my less-than-five-minute timeframe.

The fact council couldn’t recite the OCP on Dec. 13 is entirely understandable. No one has it memorized. Frustration didn’t set in until council met again on Jan. 10, entirely aware that the application’s final approval was on the agenda. Obviously the tree thing was going to come up.

They were somehow gobsmacked when Oliwa raised it and Oliwa himself had lost his conviction. On Dec. 13 he spoke confidently about the tree-removal prohibition. On Jan. 10, that confidence was gone.

They were at a book club and hadn’t read the book. They were a group of high school kids who had been assigned a group project, assumed someone else would do all the work, and wound up with nothing to hand in. Our council had four weeks to look up a sentence. That’s roughly 40,320 minutes and they only needed to spend five of those to be prepared for that conversation.

How did none of them put the effort in?

I’m not sure what’s more frustrating, the fact that Oliwa took the initiative to mention it, but then never investigated the merits of his own words, or the fact that the rest of his council heard what he said, didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t feel curious enough to consider it worth a Google.

It’s important to note, the OCP is a document of guidelines that aren’t set in stone. But, council keeps telling us how valuable that document is and how we should all be excited about its current review process and the fact that a couple Vancouver Island University students walked around town on a Saturday several months ago to collect community input. How valuable could the OCP be if it’s ignored when decisions are made? I’m not sure there’s anything I care so little about that I won’t type its name into a search engine.

I’ve told you about this before, but it’s worth mentioning again: Ucluelet has one of the highest paid councils on the Island, with an average councillor salary around $22,757; that’s nearly double the roughly $13,266 their Tofitian counterparts make.

If you’re getting paid more, you’ve got to put more in.

And, let's not forget why we live here. If we’re going to chop down our trees, it should be to make room for the local housing we so desperately need, not more tourist-accommodating guesthouses.


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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