Community is Everything.
A strong community really is one of the most important things any City can accomplish. Port Alberni has always had great community spirit and its strengths will always come from the close knit relationships of its residents. I moved back to Port Alberni because of that small town community spirit and lifestyle and I see many more people coming exactly for that.
Our Business districts, on 3rd, on Johnston, on 10th, all have empty storefronts. In fact we have one of the highest proportions of empty commercial spaces for a town our size in the province. This is a symptom of the decline of our industry based economy. In it’s place we must focus on people and place making. What does that mean? It means focusing on creating spaces in those areas that cause people to want to live there. Beautify them, make them easier and more desirable to walk and be active in.
We have seen plans from the owners of the former Fairview Market along these lines… also the new development that is set to occur at the former ADSS lands will bring a significant number of people into the area. This is how storefronts get filled, and those stores get business.
We must focus on this as a community.
We’ve seen wonderful improvements to our one and only developed seaside park. The response from the community has been amazing and I know it will only grow in popularity. We must also use it as an example of the success that comes from returning waterfront access to residents. We need more!
The past four years has seen an explosion in the need for affordable housing across the province and in Port Alberni as well. We must be active partners with community organizations like the Shelter Society, ACAWS, and CMHA. We can also look at building housing ourselves as a City as part of our own new buildings.
Fire and Protective Services
I will continue to support our fully staffed fire department. Not only are these good jobs in our community, they provide excellent service that keep our insurance costs and other costs low for the entire Valley and we benefit from regional volunteer fire departments as well. This is a good mixed model for our community.
However, we also must recognize that costs cannot continue to increase. I believe this is an issue that affects every community and demands a provincial, cost sharing solution.
One of my key goals for this term will be to start the conversation with other communities and the province to look at different models of funding fire departments. The current models are unsustainable, but the need for immediate and full response from fire services will only increase.