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The road ahead: Alberni Valley Transition Town looks at transportation

Pair of events in May will examine the future of Alberni Valley transportation
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Vehicle line up on Highway 4 at Cameron Bluffs in July 2023. (PHOTO COURTESY AV TRANSITION TOWN)

PORT ALBERNI — Two public forums in Port Alberni later this month will examine what lies ahead for transportation in the transition from fossil fuels.

Alberni Valley Transition Town Society presents The Road Ahead, the latest in a series of panel discussions, on Wednesday, May 22 at Char’s Landing. A companion presentation by Energi Media, “Why Axe the Taxers Have it All Wrong,” is planned for Tuesday, May 28 at Echo Centre (Cedar Room).

The Road Ahead panel discussion will take place at 7 p.m. at Char’s Landing. “Our theme for the evening is The Future of Transportation in the Alberni Valley with an emphasis on environmental sustainability, equity and inclusion,” said John Mayba, who is organizing the event, fourth in a series held by AVTTS to parallel the city’s Official Community Plan review.

One year ago, Port Alberni watched as its main link to the rest of Vancouver Island was suddenly cut off by the Cameron Bluffs wildfire. Two months of shutdowns, long lineups and delays on Highway 4 past the fire site brought home how reliant the city and entire region are on a connector to the rest of the Island that suddenly seemed a lot less reliable.

In keeping with the city’s ongoing OCP review, the AVTTS series focuses on the next 20 years in Alberni Valley, a period sure to bring major changes in the movement of people, goods and services. Viewed through a long lens, Highway 4 is one calculation in a more complex equation tied to trends, technology and emerging opportunities. A live and virtual discussion — ranging on topics from local foot trails to cycling to transit — will be followed by questions from the audience in attendance.

“Obviously, with such a major transition ahead, there will be lots to talk about,” said Mike Youds, an AVTTS director. “But when it comes to the city’s transportation planning, a lot of the legwork has already been done,” he added, pointing to the 2014 Active Transportation Plan.

Victor Copetti, a transit planner with BC Transit, will speak on future planning initiatives and work on the local public transit system, specifically the Transit Future Action Plan currently being developed. Lisa Brisco will represent Island Link Bus, which has recently upgraded its North Island service. Other speakers will touch on trails, rail and cycling.

The Road Ahead is one of two events in May that address the transition to a lower carbon economy. Tuesday, May 28, 7 p.m. at Echo Centre, AVTTS and Energi Media co-host a special event in the series, Why Axe the Taxers Have It All Wrong. Register by email for this session at mc@energi.media.

Join members of AVTTS for a conversation with Markham Hislop, a leading expert in the energy transition. He intends to dispel current carbon tax “myths” and explain why the tax is misunderstood.

“We will also delve into other policy tools to help us address the energy transition,” Youds said.