Alberni mayor’s inaugural address sets tone

New Alberni mayor John Douglas gave his inaugural address before a packed city council chamber on Monday night.

Mayor elect John Douglas shakes the hand of Justice of the Peace Maria Stilinovic after taking the his affirmation of oath at city council's inaugural meeting on Monday

The newly minted Port Alberni City Council met for their inaugural meeting on Monday evening and there were some surprises.

A crowd of more than 60 people who spilled out into the hallway watched as Douglas and each of the six councillors swore their oaths of office before local justice of the peace Maria Stilinovic.

City clerk Davina Sparrow was the first to officially address Douglas as “Mayor Douglas” when she invited him to make his inaugural address to the city.

“I believe that Port Alberni is a city on the cusp,” Douglas said. “Through trade, technology, seniors care, education and tourism we can become a model of rural prosperity and sustainability.”

Douglas praised former mayor Ken McRae for his courage and energy and vowed to continue the same direction forward. He also thanked former councillor Kenn Whiteman for his contributions to council.

Council’s first priority will be an independent strategic planning session, where they will set specific targets and measures of success. “In three years, when the city returns to the polls, they will ask if we kept our promises and achieved our goals,” Douglas said.

The five-year financial plan is the first significant order of business council will be grappling with in the new year. The results from an Ipsos Reid survey about the city will serve as a backdrop to the budget discussions.

“We will be striving to implement a realistic sustainable financial plan that will allow us to meet or obligations, deliver core services, and achieve strategic goals and objectives,” he said.

Public engagement is key, said Douglas, who promised “coffee with council” and town hall meetings as ways to accomplish it.

Council needs to continue diversifying the Valley’s economy with tourism, small business, education and health services to resuscitate Alberni’s flatlined economy. Forestry will always be a mainstay,  but “…we must support efforts to move into the new forest economy and also into the growing opportunities in seafood.”

Opening up the waterfront for residential, commercial and recreational interests — a cause Douglas championed as a councillor — is also part of that plan, as are working closely with the Tseshaht, Hupacasath and Maanulth nations.

The economy won’t improve overnight, but old challenges require new ways of looking at them, Douglas said.

Sustainability, which as a core value, is high on the agenda. The recycling program with the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District was a good start, he said. The city wants to add a kitchen and yard waste collection to the menu, as well as pursuing heating homes and facilities using biomass, he added.

The Valley’s infrastructure is aging and needs to start to be shored up now, Douglas said. The city has applied for federal funds to upgrade its sewage facility, and talks continue with Catalyst about obtaining their sewage lagoon.

Alberni will continue to participate in the Alberni Valley Water Study with Beaver Creek, Sproat Lake and Cherry Creek. And discussions with Catalyst continue about using their pipeline to access a backup water supply from Sproat Lake.

Douglas also remains committed to developing an industrial truck route through the city to alleviate commercial truck traffic in the city core.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Vancouver Island pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Port Alberni cyclist collides with passing car

Cyclist received minor injuries

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations receive grants to bring ancestors’ remains home

Grants are part of the Royal B.C. Museum’s new repatriation program

Get ready for a week of sunshine across Vancouver Island

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures in the high teens all this week

North Island Tour De Rock rider Benjamin Leah leads team to Port Hardy

“You don’t have issues and problems when you look at these kids and how much they’re going through.”

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Vancouver Island designated as foreign trade zone

Designation simplifies importing and exporting and provides duty relief

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

North Island Midget Eagles bit by Alberni Valley Bulldogs, hammer Nanaimo Clippers

It was a bit of an up and down rollercoaster ride of a weekend for the North Island Midget Eagles.

Most Read