The 2014 Union of British Columbian Municipalities has left both Port Alberni’s city council and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District feeling hopeful for the future.
Mayor John Douglas felt that he got a positive response on a number of initiatives for Port Alberni, citing the province’s readiness to consider the city as a possible location of a community paramedicine pilot project.
If it receives the go ahead, the community paramedicine project could help the city’s overloaded West Coast General Hospital, which has neither enough beds nor enough doctors to deal with the number of patients they have.
“This is a new component of the [healthcare] system,” Douglas said, adding that it could, “help people stay at home longer so they don’t occupy hospital beds.” He said that the province was particularly pleased with partnerships between community health partners such as the Better at Home program and Integrated Health.
While Douglas didn’t receive any concrete promises of funding for Literacy Alberni, which like literacy programs all across the province has seen a decrease in funding in recent years, he feels like he was able to impress upon the province how important literacy was for the city’s economy.
“They’re still reassessing the funding model” they have now,” said Douglas, adding that the province wants to ensure that the current system is working and fits within their budget before committing more funding.
Coun. Cindy Solda, who represented Port Alberni as well as the ACRD said that she left the UBCM with an overall positive impression but the sense that there is a lot of work ahead.
Following a UBCM report that concluded that higher fares had led BC Ferries to lose $2.4 billion, Solda and other regional chairs were able to meet with Premier Christy Clark at this year’s UBCM and put together “a sub-chair group that will meet with the premier and start working on how to solve the problem with the ferries.”
“We’re going to be a little more proactive,” said Solda, adding that as a newly appointed UBCM board member she hopes that a lack of communication won’t be an issue going forward.
There will be another delay with the construction of the new Port Alberni Shelter, following a decision at the UBCM that the project is “too expensive,” said Solda, adding that the shelter society will have to revisit the issue in the upcoming years.
Good news from the UBCM came in the form of the Alberni Valley Community Forest and the regional airport. The city and the ACRD are looking at expanding both projects and Solda said that they were met with a positive response.
Regional airport expansion could include more lights, extended runways and a GPS system, all of which would be necessary if the airport were to ever go commercial.
According to Solda, any improvements to the regional airport will have to wait on the completion of a geo-technical analysis which will give more details on the feasibility of any improvements.