The Alberni First Electoral Association presented its team of city council candidates for the Nov. 15 municipal elections. The team is comprised of Hu-ay-aht First Nations executive director James Edwards, incumbent Coun. Jack McLeman, mortgage broker Sharie Minions and former city recreational programmer Ron Paulson.
Alberni First has spent three months putting together a platform with both regional and municipal issues and states that a diversified industry and not tourism is the economic way forward for Port Alberni. Among the municipal issues are alternatives and funding for a new Roger Creek Crossing that is different than the proposed $14.6 million going to referendum in November, creation of a district municipality in the Alberni Valley and alternatives and funding for replacing the pool at Echo Centre.
Regional initiatives include lobbying for improved access to Highway 4, regional airport development and expansion, Asia Pacific Gateway designation for the Port Alberni Port Authority, the proposed container cargo facility and supporting First Nations economic development, including the proposed Steelhead LNG facility.
Addressing concerns that their regional platform may be out of city council jurisdiction, Edwards said that many of these initiatives start at the community level and that Port Alberni’s quality of life is the deciding factor in whether or not regional projects go ahead in the Alberni Valley.
While Alberni First candidates will be allowed to raise their own issues outside of their team platform, Minions said that the key to the group’s success will be that once a decision was made, the entire group will work together to support it regardless of how votes fall.
Alberni First has yet to decide whether or not they will put forth a mayoral candidate or if they will add the final two members to their slate. They are willing to work with whoever else is elected in order to avoid a repeat of the dissention on the current council. McLeman said future cooperation is important, especially with candidates now running for a four-year rather than a three-year term.