Ucluelet Public Engagement Weekend

Ucluelet Public Engagement Weekend 1
Author: Lauren Shaw

From March 8-10th, as part of the public engagement process for the Ucluelet Official Community Plan (OCP) Revisions, the MABRRI team, in partnership with the District of Ucluelet and VIU’s Master of Community Planning program held a comprehensive weekend of events including two open houses, a community design charrette, and three youth consultation sessions. The purpose of all these events was to update the 2011 OCP to be in line with current community thought and give the community insight on the OCP process.

The weekend started on Thursday with pristine weather as the usually wet west coast of Vancouver Island was fortunate to have sunny skies while welcoming the migrating grey whales back into the area from their long swim from Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, just in time for the Pacific Rim Whale Festival.

The first event held was an open house at the Ucluelet Community Centre in conjunction with the District’s Emergency Preparedness and Response event bringing in a large crowd of 86 attendees. Students and District staff were stationed around the room and able to answer any questions residents had about the OCP process in real time.

The following day, we were able to spend some time with a group not frequently engaged in the public consultation process: the youth. Grades 8, 9, and 10 from Ucluelet Secondary School each came to the Ucluelet Community Centre for an hour long session of learning what planning is and using large maps of the District and trace paper to show us what they want in their community. Popular ideas were aquatic centres, a Tim Hortons (or similar food chain), renovations to the BMX Park, and indoor facilities for when the weather is less ideal. The students seemed excited about the prospects of the community in the future, and MCP Director, Pam Shaw, may have scouted out some potential planners for the next decade.

After the youth consultation wrapped up students headed back outside for “OCP on the Streets” where they divided up into two groups stationed at Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce and across from the municipal offices. Each group had a map of the area and trace paper to encourage passerby’s to draw and comment on what they wanted to see in the community in the future, or in some cases, what they wanted removed. Additionally the group located along Peninsula Road had a sign encouraging drivers to “honk for better sidewalks” which generated attention to the event and received over 100 honks.

The final event was an Open House reporting on all findings and feedback from the weekend. Another incredible sunny day proved to keep people outside rather than at the Ucluelet Community Centre, but those who did attend offered great feedback and stayed for long period of time taking in the large amounts of information.

In total the Ucluelet public engagement weekend was a great success reaching approximately 200 people to participate in the OCP revisions, and the MABRRI/MCP team thoroughly enjoyed their weekend away in sunny Ucluelet!