City of Port Alberni council has nixed plans to put out a request for proposal for the forested area by Westporte Place. The forested area is 68 acres of city-owned green space east of Westporte that is earmarked as future development in the Official Community Plan.
Late last year, city council had proposed that the western 8.1 hectares (approximately 20 acres) be developed. That would include a park and a playground to make up for the ones Westporte residents feel like they will be giving up once Rainbow Gardens expands into the neighbouring Westporte Park.
However, aside from the 20-30 proposed housing units, the rest of Westporte Park will be developed into gardens, outdoor and covered exercise areas, walking paths, a pickleball court and a children’s playground.
When presented with city planner Scott Smith’s draft request for proposal, council changed their minds.
“Looking at the state of residential lots that are either for sale currently or on the immediate horizon, this may not be the time for the city to be putting more residential lots out for sale,” said Mayor Mike Ruttan. While Ruttan made the statement during Monday’s council meeting, he noted that he was speaking personally and not to represent city council.
He wasn’t the only one.
“I want to echo that same sentiment,” said Coun. Denis Sauve.
“There are vacant properties within the community so for us to redevelop that area with the concerns of the residents about groundwater, trails… I don’t think we’re at the right time to even consider it.”
When council had talked to the residents of Westporte in 2015, concerns about drainage, streams and protection of forests were plentiful.
Council voted to not proceed with the request for proposal and will reconsider it in the new year.