Compromise solution for Harbour View Lands

Submitted to the Alberni Valley News this morning:

Dear Editor,

There is a simple solution to the Harbourview Lands question.  The treed “park” area which has stood the same for most of the past 100 years (if not much longer) and has an active eagle’s nest right now, is only one portion of the area under consideration.  

As far as following current use, I’d argue the proposed area can be seen as the following three pieces: The mostly dirt “parking lot” property alongside Kingsway; the grassy treed “park” area on the bluff bounded by the wood logs, the WFP owned railway, and Argyle; and the “upper parking” dirt area which presumably is where the sea cadet building once sat.

As a compromise, Council can create two new properties with one making the existing “park” official, and the other combining the two dirt parking areas into one property for easier development.  We then end up with two very similar sized properties, one permanently public and one for development so the community’s legitimate competing desires to preserve what has always been while advancing opportunity for very valuable land would be met.

Creating those properties and confirming those uses in zoning would trigger a public hearing process which I think Council would find the community very supportive of thanks to the compromise but still visionary solution it would propose.


Sincerely,
Chris Alemany

Given the Mayor’s comments on Facebook last Wednesday (which I reproduced in full at the bottom), I think this solution would create a situation where the entire public could much more easily accept a way forward. My biggest concern is the loss of control for what has been effectively public park space for the entire history of the City of the Port Alberni and still having the ability to promote smart development that will take advantage of what Port Alberni has to offer.

This solution, which I map out in the images below, would protect the park space permanently while still keeping very valuable waterfront/view land open for development. Here are the lands:

Here are the actual properties in the area using the official BC Government Land ParcelMap available for Google Earth through BC Open Data. Green are the City owned properties in question. 5350 is the larger “park” property and 5050 is the parking lot next to Kingsway. Yellow is private property. WFP owns the property along Harbour Rd.

Below is the compromise solution I would propose. You end up with two roughly equally sized properties (about 1 acre each). Pink would be the official “park” including a small parking area to ensure people have some level access. Blue would be the development area.

Google Earth measures the resulting park parcel at 1 acre (43,800sqft) and the development parcel at 1.1 acre (48,500sqft). (Google Earth File)

The development would be a little simpler in the sense that it would be one property. The new development property would be larger and with better prospects than if Council only offered the parking lot along Kingsway.

The development property still has unimpeded views to the water and all points south plus a permanent park for future residents to enjoy plus potential to expand further to the south if they bought some of the ample unused property from WFP or the Port Authority.

The resulting park would preserve everything that is being used as park now and ensure it was set aside permanently, none of the large fir trees would be impacted.

I hope the City could consider this kind of compromise.

Note: there are also a couple of laneways or city rights of way involved here that I would propose be removed and made part of the appropriate properties including the lane that goes up beside the Carmoor block which is not needed if there is still access to the park from Kingsway.

See my previous post of archival photos of the property over the last 120 years.

P.S. This solution is similar to one proposed by the City Planner in 2013 (during the Mayorship of John Douglas). News article from the time here.

For reference, here are the Mayor’s statements.

👋 Update 👋
For clarity on the Harbourview Lands. 


At Monday’s Council meeting, we directed staff to begin writing a request for proposals to bring back to council for review on the Harbourview lands. 


Some key considerations:
🗣️ We would like to hear input from First Nations before committing to release RFP
💢The RFP would be open for all or a portion of the lands leaving developers to tell us how much they think is necessary for their potential project
🌲 Clear wording around tree retention will be written into RFP
⛱ RFP will state value given to proposals that enhance the park space around development 
💰 The development proposed in 2007 would likely be bringing in over $500k/year currently had it been allowed to go through. That’s $500k every year we could be using to improve our community, enhance our waterfront, pay for a pool, etc. 


Currently the bulk of that land is gravel parking lot, not greenspace. And the greenspace that is there could definitely be improved with a boardwalk, art piece, additional shrubs, a First Nations feature etc. 


It may sound simple to suggest there are run down buildings in this town or vacant lots and people should develop those first, but those buildings have been available for decades and most have not been touched. 


Currently, we have very reputable developers expressing interest in *this* property. We badly need to increase our tax base (and therefore decrease the tax burden on our residents) with quality developments. And with recent news around mill shut downs, crime, LNG, budget, trains, etc we also need to change the narrative about our community to opportunities rather than challenges in the outside world. 

I believe if done correctly, a quality development with ample public space on this property could be a catalyst for some very positive improvements in our community. 


Please feel free to ask questions or provide input as this process is at very early stages and we’d like to continue to hear community feedback as we progress.

A Letter for the Maplehurst Trails and ecosystems in Port Alberni

Update email from Greenmax.

I was forwarded this enail which was sent to folks who had sent concerns. It appears some changes might be in the works.

Hello Again,

UPDATE ON MAPLEHURST PARK.

In previous responses I have sent to you, it now appears that the information about Maplehurst Park may be incorrect.

I am continuing to clarify the Park’s status, but felt it necessary to communicate this info as soon as possible.

In my last response I quoted from the MANAGEMENT PLAN of the Woodlot that 
“Unit C: Kitsuksis Creek: Maplehurst Park exists south of Unit C with an associated trail system running through the southeastern portion of the unit. This park and its trail network are neither an official recreation resource nor part of the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District Park Service, however the trails are well used by community members.” 
This information was provided  by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) through the referral process for this earlier plan. This plan and wording was also approved by the  Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (MOFLNRO) as part of this process. 

As many of you had expressed concerns about both trails within Unit C of the Woodlot as well as those within Maplehurst Park, I made contact with the MOFLNRO again before my Mar 11 letter to you. I was given the same information at that time.

In the last few days I have received information from the ACRD which conflicts with that provided earlier. They have apologised and I accept that. I am now working with the MOFLNRO to provide additional certainty to the status of this land, which may in fact be a park.

This in no way has any bearing on the management of lands within Unit C but as I had provided this info I simply wanted to clear it up. When I get the confirmation from MOFLNRO I will update you again. This often used area is important to the community and deserves protection. In fact new maps provided appear to show further opportunities for trail development East of Kitsuksis Creek.

Sorry about the earlier confusion. Sometime through these processes new information appears which is a good thing. This is looking like one such case.

Regards,

David McBride RPF
Greenmax Resources

Re: Maplehurst trail proposed logging – urge Province to provide alternative areas

To Whom it May Concern,

On behalf of my family, my wife and two kids I want to urge you to use this letter and the many others you receive to take to the government or whomever you must in order to show the very strong opposition to any logging whatsoever in these lands in and around Kitsuksis Road, and the Maplehurst trails. (map)

This was the last intact forest that was not threatened by logging activity in close proximity to City Limits.  The trails, wildlife and ecosystems in this area are unique and critical to the character and overall well being of the entire community.

Please urge the province to find other tenures not close to the community.  We support forestry in a sustainable way and in a way that uses some areas, while leaving others preserved and protected particularly those of such high value and relatively undisturbed state as the area affect here.

Thank you for inviting this public comment and again, please urge the province to find another place. This cut block will impact dozens of people bordering the area directly and hundreds of people who enjoy the trails and the wilderness of the Alberni Valley.  We must preserve what little we have left close to the community.

Thank you again,

Chris, Theresa, Jade and Joshua Alemany

——-

Yesterday, March 11, was supposed to be the final day allowed for comments to the company potentially doing the logging of the area. However, there is nothing stopping people from continuing to send messages to mail@econ.ca

Re-assessing my screen time after turning off notifications and #resistfacebook

Back in November I wrote a blog about discovering the “screen time” monitoring and managing service that Apple provides on its devices.

I knew I was in front of a device screen (and this doesn’t count laptop time at work or home) a lot but it was still amazing to see just how much. That pushed me to try to start a change I had already been considering for a long time.

I turned off notifications for many apps. I started deleting apps. I downgraded my phone plan so that it is a pay as you go with minimal data. Data is actually off by default on my iPhone so it is just a phone with Wifi. Finally, I decided to leave facebook behind as much as possible.

So I think now is a good time, nearly 4 months later to see how this has gone….

iPhone Time way down.

Like I said, I downgraded my plan to basically phone calls and wifi only by switching to Public Mobile. This was both a cost and sanity saving measure. My iPad remains on the family Telus account shared 6GB data. Instead of $80/mo I am at $25 on the phone.

The result? In November my 7 day screentime was: 6hrs 31 minutes total, 55min a day. And almost 4 hours of that total was on social “networking” (incl. texts) but it was mostly social media. 3 hours on the facebook app, 1 hour on twitter. Just a few minutes on messenger and 30 minutes on camera for non SM stuff.

This past week looks like this:

My total is cut in half as is per day use. Facebook is gone (I deleted the app from my phone) and the most used social media app is instagram with 19 minutes. My phone is now mainly a text messaging device (using Apple Messages and much lesser FB Messenger) and a camera. I am happy with that.

Pickups per day have gone from 46 to 34.

Notifications has also cut in half, from 627 a week, including 276 from facebook to 252 total a week. Mostly from private messaging (Messages or FB Messenger).

Again, I am pretty happy with that. Now for my iPad.

iPad time up a little but different apps.

In November my 7 day screentime was: 32hrs 26 minutes total onthe iPad. 4hr 38min a day. 21 hours of the total was on social networking including almost 16 hours on the facebook app, and 2.5 hours on twitter.

Now:

I have actually increased to 38 hours per week on the iPad with an hour more a day at 5hr 32 minutes. So I am taking time from the phone and putting it here. But the apps have changed. Facebook is almost gone, at just 42 minutes on the regular app and 43 minutes on the Pages app. Twitter is now 15 hours a day, which is an hour less than what I had on facebook before and 3 hours less than what I had combined on facebook and twitter. So a modest reduction overall on the big two. But I need to bring that down further.

Here are where the increases come in:

My use of Safari has increased by 3 hours total a week. Mail use is the same, and I have a new app called “TapShot” that I use to track my sons goalie stats during his game (which are about 1.5 hour a week). I am also using Numbers (an excel type app) for the same purpose quite a bit though not this week.

Pickups are up from 23 a day to 41 a day but notifications are down from 515 a week (73 a day) to 414 (59 a day).

Facebook and Twitter are both at zero notifications. I turned off all notifications from them. Facebook Pages is at 25 which is more than the 14 in November but still small. Most of the notifications now are from private messaging, like my phone. The other apps haven’t changed much.

There may be some inflation of these numbers because my phone and iPad sometimes sit open on my desk at work while they charge/backup so at that time I get notifications to both of them even though I would be only using my laptop to respond.

I will make a point of making sure my screens are locked when they are on my desk to prevent this.

I am surprised that the time on Twitter is as high as it is. It doesn’t feel like I spend as much time scrolling on Twitter as I did on Facebook. So I will have to monitor that and ease my boredom on the bus and at home in other ways.

I started a new book on my iPad for the first time in a long time. I don’t know if this will add screen time or not. I often fall asleep reading. 🙂

Overall up slightly.

I am happy that my screen time dedicated to facebook and twitter is down. But, my actual screen time is up from about 39 hours a week (5hrs a day) total for both to 41 hours. So I will focus first on continuing to cut twitter time and see if that total number comes down or gets replaced by something else.

Overall though, I am quite happy with how things have shifted. My phone use is very minimal now. Also, the Michael Cohen and SNC Lavalin drama of the past week or two seems to be dying down thankfully so maybe that will take care of some of it. 😉

More time in “Book.app” will be welcome.

I hope this helps spur others to track the time they spend and try to change their habits accordingly.

Thanks for reading.