Happy anniversary West Coast.
On Jan. 25, 2012, I was introducing myself to Sutton Pass as a terrified passenger in an overstuffed moving van on my way to falling in love with you. I was as excited to arrive here then as I am to raise my kids here now. You’re every bit as beautiful as the day we met. I wouldn’t trade the five years we’ve shared for the shiniest yacht in the world.
I walked into the Westerly News office for the first time on Jan. 26 and met the editor I would drive nuts while being inspired by. Lisa Stewart was the most wonderful predecessor and mentor a handsome, young-ish reporter could have asked for and this newspaper was as lucky to have her as I was to learn from her.
Wood is the symbol for fifth anniversaries, and I’ll be knocking on some to ward off any chance I won’t get to spend another five years here. I’ll be celebrating the best decision I ever made on Wednesday, but the festivities will be mild. I’m still at war with whatever influenza has been wiping this entire Coast out these last few weeks. Whatever’s ailing me brought its most intense blitz Friday night, the same night a malevolent stomach bug found its way into my three-year-old son.
Despite being stricken with the most dramatic of man colds, I found myself teaching Jr. how to throw up in a toilet instead of his bed. He’ll need to know how to do that if he ever decides to go to college and I was impressed with how quickly he took to it. There were several trips to the bathroom that night, but there was glory in their gloom because, thanks to my apparently impeccable tutelage, he woke me up to carry him to the toilet each time.
It was a harsh way for him to learn a lesson and I wasn’t particularly in the mood to shed any paternal wisdom while the clock ticked into morning, but doing is the most expedient path to knowing and learning opportunities should never be wasted.
There are a variety of believable reasons for Ucluelet’s council and staff to have thought an open house was the right way to go last week. We know now they were wrong. The heat they’re taking for that format choice is a harsh way for them to learn a lesson. I hope they don’t waste the opportunity.
Free flowing conversations with constituents sound great during municipal brainstorms and, given the attendance they’ve seen at their more formal meetings, it makes sense they’d want to try something new. About eight of us showed up to their Town Hall meeting on water last month; the amount of chairs they’d set up in the UCC’s main hall suggested they were expecting more.
Unfortunately though, the style of that water meeting was exactly what locals were looking for when they walked into Activity Room 1, where no chairs were set up and no presentations were scheduled.
The calamity was predictable, but I’d like to see open houses become part of council’s public outreach arsenal. This was just the wrong issue to test it on.
There hadn’t been, and hasn’t been, enough education provided on the business licence fee increases, or the bylaw enforcement they’re supposed to fund, for an open house-type discussion to take place.
The numbers, and there’s lots of them, are complicated enough and business owners also need to know exactly what that officer is going to be enforcing before they can determine whether it’s fair for them to foot the bill. Without that information, the night’s questions were too wide ranging and they would often be asked by an attendee just to be immediately expanded upon by another, and another, until an entirely unrelated conversation was underway before any answers were offered to the original question.
Kudos to council for reassessing and determining another meeting is needed. Sometimes it takes more than one kick at the can and it’s cool to see them trying new things. Let’s just hope they advertise this next one though. It’s nice that they want to party with us. It would be nicer if they told us where the party is.