Alberni city council OK’s Kuu-us project location

Port Alberni city council initially balked at supporting the Kuu-us Crisis Society's plan for the former Johnston Road armoury. But this week they changed their tune.

The Kuu-us Crisis Society’s initiative at their property on Johnston Road is going ahead.

Port Alberni city councillors voted 5-1 in favour of supporting the project’s new location at their Monday meeting.

Coun. Cindy Solda voted against the motion.

Kuu-us executive director Elia Nicholson-Nave appeared before council to make another pitch for their support. Kuu-us had been granted the federally-owned property through a Canadian governmental program.

Nicholson-Nave presented a detailed business plan to the city, which council perused last week, along with a building inspector’s report.

She also presented an endorsement for the initiative from Port Alberni CSI, as well as letters of support from 29 out of 44 area residents and businesses.

“I’m glad to announce a tremendous amount of support from the business sector,” Nicholson-Nave said.

Council previously didn’t support the project location because they felt shut out of the process and cited that there was better use for the land.

The climate changed this time around, but some councillors were still tepid.

Some businesses are still saying no. “That still does concern me,” Coun. Ike Patterson said.

Council also expressed concerns about the project’s physical and financial security.

Nicholson-Nave replied that the facility will be staffed seven days a week and there is an incident report process available to neighbours.

And the project would be self-sustaining via rental income if the initiative falls through.

If all else fails, the property goes back into the federal inventory, and Kuu-us would be on the hook for its fair market value.

In response to a question about whether Kuu-us would come back to the city asking for a tax exemption, Nicholson-Nave replied ‘no’.

Kuu-us will be paying municipal property taxes, she added.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com