Sally Anderson (centre) received the Citizen of the Year Award from Joe Lamoureux, president of Arrowsmith Rotary, during the last Community Excellence Awards in 2019. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Sally Anderson (centre) received the Citizen of the Year Award from Joe Lamoureux, president of Arrowsmith Rotary, during the last Community Excellence Awards in 2019. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Alberni Valley’s Community Excellence awards make up for lost time

‘This is everybody’s opportunity to say thanks’

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

Nominations are open for the Alberni Valley’s Community Excellence Awards, designed to recognize business achievements through exceptionally difficult times.

“We’re recreating this event based on the new world,” explained Bill Collette, executive director of Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The awards ceremony should look a lot different than the last one, held three years ago. For a start, the chamber will consider three nominations in each of 19 categories to recognize winners for achievements in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

When the first bevy of pandemic restrictions forced cancellation of the last Community Excellence Awards in spring 2020, few could have guessed that COVID-19 would prevail for two full years, a seemingly endless health crisis necessitating a roller-coaster of social and commercial regulations.

“What I need people to realize, the business community in particular, they’ve seen the worst,” Collette explained. “They need to be thanked for their efforts in the last two years. They’ve been somewhat taken for granted. This is everybody’s opportunity to say thanks.”

That’s where the community at large comes in, customers who have seen local businesses ride out the storm. Some businesses have gone to exceptional lengths to keep goods and services available and staff employed. For others, just keeping the doors open has been an achievement in itself.

“Businesses should be nominated that in the past might not have been considered,” Collette said. “It all comes down to nominations; we don’t pick the winners.”

The awards event, formerly held indoors at the Italian Hall, will look a lot different as well. This year’s awards celebration takes place Friday, June 10 at McLean Mill National Historic Site. Plans call for an outdoor “or mostly” outdoor event under tent canopies, live music with food and refreshments prepared by local restaurateurs and craft brewers.

“We are hoping we can do it,” Collette said. “We are pretty confident we can do it.”

A community fixture for years, the Italian Hall was itself a victim of the pandemic, shuttered since July 2021 and now up for sale. Some businesses closed temporarily, others permanently. Others have managed to hang on while some have found success, possibly in new or innovative ways.

“We need to acknowledge the work of many businesses over the last couple of years,” Collette said

For details on awards criteria or to nominate businesses online, visit www.albernichamber.ca.

COMMUNITY EXCELLENCE CATEGORIES:

Citizen of the Year

Business of the Year

Ambassador of Service

Business Investment Award

Chamber Award

Community Events Award

Customer Service Award

Façade Improvement Award

Gillian Trumper Memorial Youth Award

Alberni Valley News Green Award

Health and Wellness Award

Inclusive Employer Award

Rising Star Award

Social Media Award

Special Recognition Award

Tourism and Hospitality Award

Visionary Award

Volunteer of the Year Award

Women of Influence Award

Port Alberni