If you are reading this post then you no doubt already know that Port Alberni’s Municipal politics scene got a bit of a shakeup last week with the announcement of a new Electoral Association calling itself Alberni First. James Edwards, Sharie Marie Minions, Ron Paulson and Jack McLeman will have “Alberni First” beside their name on the ballot.
Folks have been asking me whether I would consider joining a slate, be it AlberniFirst or something else. In short, no.
I am committed to working and cooperating with anyone that happens to be beside me on Council if I am lucky and honoured enough to be successful and I reject the bad behaviour that arose with our current Council. I don’t think you need a slate to be able to cooperate with others and having a small group control, even only peripherally, the actions of a bloc of councillors can be dangerous.
That said, Alberni First did bring up some specific goals that they say their candidates will be working on together. Below is a breakdown of those points. You might be surprised to find I agree with and would support pursuing all but one of them… my ideas to accomplish them might simply be a little different. 🙂
AlberniFirst says in their Mission Statement:
Alberni First will support growth and development through practical and balanced decision making to ensure business and industry are able to grow and flourish while protecting our environment and quality of life.
I believe these are goals all councillors should and do share. Port Alberni has a long industrial heritage and skill set and that will continue to be something we grow on in future especially in forestry and port sectors. We must not allow that to monopolize our thinking. While other communities diversify their economy and especially their waterfronts, into high tech and small business hubs with vibrant public and residential waterfront development, Port Alberni remains much the same as it was 40 years ago. We must not be afraid to expand our horizons and welcome new ideas to our City.
Alberni First says their Candidates will promote and support:
Improved highway access to Highway 19
Yes! I’ve commuted on Highway 4 and Highway 19 every working day since 2005 so I have a very deep understanding of the challenges facing users of our one and only access in and out of Port Alberni. In my opinion, the best way to improve that access, experience and safety for all at a reasonable cost to taxpayers will be
- to continue to improve Highway 4 itself
- to remove industrial traffic on the route by reactivating the railway (which provides far more capacity anyway for import/export)
- to encourage people to stay in Port Alberni through job creation and an increase in services and businesses that people are currently leaving the Valley for (like a new pool or fancier theatre).
- to invest in other other alternatives to Highway 4, from alternate modes of transport (BC Transit bus or rail), to completing the “circle route” from Powell River and Cowichan through Nitinat and Bamfield to Port Alberni (which would be a requirement for any big Port expansion as well and provide big benefits for those remote communities that use Port Alberni as an important service centre) and on around Comox Lake to Cumberland and Courtenay.
Taken together these strategies could address the common concerns we have about access in and around our Valley in a cost effective and environmentally sensitive way while also providing ample room for economic development especially through our deep sea port.
Alberni Valley Regional Airport development and expansion
Definitely! Our Airport should at least be fully accessible to as many types of planes as it can currently accommodate by adding a GPS route for the facility. I believe an extension of the runway could also be a very good investment for the community. However we should also consider how this might affect one of our most popular and important events of the year, Thunder in the Valley. Can an expanded and more regularly used Airport still accommodate this incredibly popular and successful event? We need to ensure all stakeholders are included so that we can get as close to the best of both worlds as possible.
Asia Pacific Gateway designation for PAPA and the proposed PATH container cargo facility
Yes! I have long lobbied for the Federal and Provincial government to include our port, which is the 3rd closest deep sea port in Canada to Asia (after Prince Rupert and Kitimat), as part of the Asia Pacific Gateway strategy. Such a designation could open our community up to millions of dollars of investment and create lots of jobs. I also support the Port Alberni Transhipment Hub (PATH) project in its current form. Short sea shipping (ie. by tug and barge) is recognized as one of the most efficient ways to move goods on the planet. Port Alberni is uniquely positioned to provide this service and it could have a direct impact on lowering the overall CO2 and air emissions in the Lower Mainland as well as reducing the need for massive bridge and highway expansion there at taxpayer expense. This is something that can truly benefit us all.
First Nations Economic Development including the proposed LNG facility
Yes and No. Yes to First Nations self-determination and economic development. First Nations are a rising force in the Canadian economy of the 21st century and I believe we will all benefit from it.
The LNG facility I see as a completely separate issue. I will not presume to know or direct what Huu-ay-aht or any of our local First Nations might decide to pursue for the LNG project or any other. They will make those determinations. I have serious reservations about the LNG project but as it stands right now, until the company submits an environmental application, the City of Port Alberni has no role to play in the discussion. I don’t expect that process to start until possibly the next term of council in 4-5 years.
Alberni First Candidates will investigate and consult on options, with the possibility of a binding referendum on:
Alternatives and funding for a new Roger Creek crossing
Yes! I’ve already stated what I think. The road crossings are too expensive, but a foot and bike bridge makes more sense. Don’t forget about the poll! 🙂
Creation of a District Municipality in the Alberni Valley
Study it! As I’ve said on my Accountability page, I think expanding our borders is worth looking into, but I would only support such an investigation if it was done with the full and prior consent of those outside districts that were affected. We have to move forward together as a community no matter whether we are one big city or many different areas working in tandem.
Alternatives and funding for replacement of the aquatic center
Yes! We absolutely need a new public pool. Too many families and seniors are choosing to drive all the way to Qualicum and Nanaimo just to use their facilities. This is a terrible, and not-so-hidden, economic drain on our community. (and also contributes to the problems we have on Highway 4).
Alberni First Candidates will work to:
Develop and promote Port Alberni as an attractive and affordable community for families, seniors and retirement living.
Yes, nothing more to say!
Reduce tax levels on residents and business by growing the tax base
This is a must, I believe we also must look at rebalancing our tax rates so that the share of taxes paid are not so heavily skewed (>60%) to residents
Promote trails systems, parks and waterfront access
Improve City relationships with local agencies and industry to foster growth through partnerships
Yes! Good relationships and communication are the key to success and I believe it will start at the Council table. I believe most council candidates will be in favour of the things Alberni First has put forward. We all want the best for our community.