In the gallery below I have compiled at least one photo from nearly every decade since the 1890s that features a picture of the trees at the bottom of Argyle in what is now commonly known as “Sea Cadet Park”. All pictures are from the Alberni Valley Museum digital archive. If you click on a picture you will be taken to its original page at the AVM with a further description.
At one point there was a Royal Navy Sea Cadet detachment near the trees on the south end of the property. There is a picture of it amongst the rest below.
You will find also find one that has a photo from today, March 4, 2019 for comparison.
The first Mayor of Port Alberni, AE Waterhouse, lived at the foot of the hill on what is now Harbour Road.
In every picture, whether they dominate the picture, or they reached up to the sky in the distance, or they obscured a hidden view of the harbour, or even were just shadows on Argyle, the trees and hill are there. That tiny patch of shade is probably the most photographed grove of trees in the City and before Port Alberni, the Tseshaht and Hupacasath peoples knew the hill since time immemorial.
Compared to the rest of the Harbour, the dirt there has been relatively untouched.
I hope they leave the Park with the Trees and Hill. If you’d like to provide input to the City directly, use the letsconnectpa.ca platform.
Those are the two basic themes. The two sides to the same coin. Politicians and corporations will invariably use the hammer of “jobs jobs jobs” as the reason, to do, or not do, anything. This could include making unsavoury backroom deals, ignoring or doing the opposite of good policy, destroying the environment, or even breaking the law.
As a recovering small town politician the most searing examples of this generally came in in-camera or private meetings, away from the public eye of course, but not always. The pressure of the “jobs jobs jobs” mentality is omnipresent. Ignore it or, god forbid, try to push back in any way, and judgement is swift from your political colleagues captured by the glare of populist dogma. (See “Old Ideas Die Hard in the Dark” for a local example)
Jody Wilson-Raybould’s treatment and testimony during the SNC Lavalin affair is a rare public glimpse of just how deeply this mentality permeates behind closed doors at every level of government.
While every Canadian citizen will cynically, and rightly, judge every politician after this brutal display of corporate capture of our Prime Minister and federal government, I do hope they recognize “JWR”, as the righteous example of what a politician should be. Principled, courageous, and most of all, willing to put the principles of good governance and rule of law above populist, corporatist, pressure.
There is certainly nothing wrong with corporations and companies stating their case. Lobbying, by all manner of interest group, is a required part of any functioning democracy.
It is when that lobbying travels up a kind of ladder of impropriety, first based on who agrees with who (ideology), who knows who (nepotism), and finally who pays who (corruption)… that lobbying can quickly turn from an essential part of democracy, to something which can test and destroy democratic institutions.
The worst part of the SNC Lavalin affair is the improper pressure put on the Attorney General to save the company from prosecution for corruption, but the second worst part is using working people to justify that unlawfulness.
It is not a worker on an SNC Lavalin project in Montreal or Calgary or Vancouver who demanded that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or the Clerk of the Privy Council bully and harass the Attorney General of Canada into approving a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA). Nor is it the worker who benefits from corrupt corporations lobbying corrupt government officials.
While the meeting was not about the issue of SNC and DPA’s the PM raised the issue immediately. The Prime Minister asks me to help out – to find a solution here for SNC – citing that if there was no DPA there would be many jobs lost and that SNC will move from Montreal.
This is such boiler-plate, basic political bullying it is almost laughable that it occurs in what one might naïvely think of as our highest and most respected institutions. I can’t tell you — no really, I can’t, as it often happened in-camera, which is the point — how many times I heard the line, “You can’t do ____ because ____ large company will leave/not come and many jobs will be lost/not created”, when proposing an alternative solution or policy on the basis of good governance, public input, and/or evidence-based decision making.
It doesn’t matter if the issue is small town good policy for growth and thus future employment, or if it is the Attorney General of Canada making a decision independent of the Executive Branch of Government as is expected of her under the Constitution Act.
We must as a society try harder to move away from using jobs as a threat. We should all be able to agree that part of a well functioning society is its citizens being gainfully employed to the betterment of all. That is something we all advocate.
Pitting lawful society, clean environment, gainful employment, and other basic rights against one another only serves to diminish them all.
If anything comes from the SNC Lavalin affair, let it be to work toward a society that sees employment as a goal, not a wedge, an outcome, not a means, because as soon as you use workers to excuse or cover up bad behaviour and bad decision making, those workers — those citizens — lose.
On February 16, 2019, Port Alberni lost a most critical and amazing citizen (obit). A man who took care of countless others. Be they young or old, at West Coast General Hospital or at his office on 9th Avenue, Dr. Sander looked after them all in 39 years here.
When my mom brought me in for a checkup, he always checked on the cauliflowers in my ears.
When I came to him with a bone growing strangely out of my rib cage… he sent me off to get an X-Ray (COOL!) and said it would likely just grow into wherever it needs to go. He was right.
When I came to him with a wart on my finger that turned into a bunch… he expertly burned them off with liquid nitrogen. As a young child, I thought this was totally awesome, of course. (I probably would today too.)
So many times I sat on one of those tables in one of those rooms in his office. Every time, he took out a tapper and wrapped on my knee to check those reflexes…. he did it so often over the years I knew him that it became an expectation.
He had a concerned, attentive face, always intent on finding the answer, always compassionate.
The day I sat on his table and said I thought I was depressed. He never judged.
When my visits became visits by my wife, and my children, he never hesitated. He always knew their names, always asked how they were.
He helped bring my son into the world.
When it was my wife Theresa sitting on that table it was the same. Always her first, and then always checking in on me too.
He has helped her through the hardest years of her life.
I hadn’t seen him since the election in October, but he asked Tree how I was doing after the loss, because of course he did.
But it is the last time I saw him that I am most grateful for.
July 16, 2018. At forty, my first ever physical. I figured it was finally time, feeling a little mortal, being reminded of my friends and relatives of similar age with prostate cancer.
We chatted as we always did. He ordered all the tests and whatnot and did all the work. When it was done, he thanked me for coming and congratulated me on my good health. As he turned to leave I joked:
“Not bad for my first time, right? See you in 40 years!”.
He burst into a laugh. It was the first time I’d ever seen him laugh like that though you could tell it came easily.
I don’t have a picture of him except the one from his obituary. I never called him by his first name, though he always did for me. But I will always remember his face and that laugh.
Thanks Doctor Sander… see you in 40 years… or so. 🙂