PORT ALBERNI – The BC Economic Development Association just hosted its 40th Annual Summit with a theme of Economic Revival – Charting a Path Forward for BC Communities.
For Port Alberni that means a continued focus on reconciliation, new economic sectors, addressing the climate change challenge, support for our SME’s and assistance for struggling citizens. Each is explained briefly below.
One of the more visible reconciliation initiatives will be the conversion of our iconic clock tower in Harbour Quay to a story tower acknowledging, that in 1860, Tseshaht people were forced off their winter village and wolf ritual beach to make way for a sawmill.
Our new economic sectors will stem from an increased leveraging of our food hub; a securing of the Cascadia Seaweed ‘beach-head’; attraction of remote tech workers in partnership with five other communities and the VICEDA ‘tech island’ initiative; and the cluster of value-added wood-fibre facilities the San Group is establishing here. We are also investing heavily in quality of life, creating multi-use trails and pathways, building commuter links between our neighbourhoods, schools, retail areas and workplaces.
Like you, we are converting our fleet of vehicles to electric and hybrid models and investing in building retrofits and LED streetlights. This year we launch an organic waste collection in partnership with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. Next year, our first net zero 46-unit affordable housing project will open its doors.
During the pandemic, our partnership with Community Futures Alberni Clayoquot, the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Port Alberni Port Authority, the Alberni Valley Employment Centre and our Emergency Operations Centre resulted in a massive effort to ensure businesses survive and thrive with initiatives like a $1 million locally based loan program, a free consulting service, a gift-card e-commerce site with three-months free access, and full municipal support for business use of public spaces.
Several projects addressing the complete continuum of housing needs have been completed or are in motion and several projects addressing other needs of our most vulnerable citizens are at work or being planned. These include a safe injection site, a treatment centre, a therapeutic centre, a Community Action Team, a modified ambulance to deliver hot food to several sites and more.
In summary, our path forward is a matter of staying the course AND adjusting as circumstances require.
The circumstances include an unprecedented residential development boom and increasing housing prices.
Pat Deakin is the Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni. He can be reached at 250-720-2527 or Patrick_deakin@portalberni.ca