Port Alberni city council adopted four recommendations from the Food Security and Climate Disruption Committee following their annual report to the city.
Councillor Chris Alemany, who is liasion to this committee, presented the four recommendations in the report to council on April 10.
“We look over a huge amount of issues, tried to capture some of them in the report,” he summarized.
The first recommendation was to update the active transportation plan with a current status report and a study of implementation options for all ages and abilities bike facilities.
Bike facilities, Alemany clarified, just refers to something more than painted bike lanes on the road. “It can be a whole range of things. It can be a path on the road like Stamp Avenue. It can be a separation with parking stalls on one side and the bike lane in the middle and then the sidewalk.”
Alemany added that there has been money set aside from the previous report, so any investigation that needed to be done might be able to use the already committed money. “But the main purpose is to first update the active transportation plan just so that we know where we’re at,” he said. “And then to try and get an idea of what all ages and and abilities bike facilities are, look like and how they might integrate into that active transportation plan.”
Mayor Mike Ruttan said that he liked the idea of the bike facilities. “I particularly like the direction that you’re going to recommend the separation of bikes from the travel portion of the highway,” he said. “Which is the same direction that Victoria’s going, Ottawa’s gone, a number of communities are going. It’s safer, it makes way more sense, I bet it will lead to a whole lot more usage.”
The committee’s second recommendation was to convene a meeting with the ACRD, the port authority, First Nations, the Province of British Columbia and other concerned stakeholders investigate the implications of climate change on the Port Alberni harbour and Somass River.
“The committee is aware of the challenges that Tseshaht First Nation had recently with flooding after severe weather events that really had not happened before,” said Alemany. “The research of the committee has indicated that those kinds of events are going to be more common.
“This is hopefully a first step,” he went on. “It’s a way to bring as many stakeholders together as possible to start to discuss what mitigation type actions and adaptations we can take in order to minimize this effect on our communitites.”
Councillor McLeman agreed that this is an important issue, but argued, “I think the province should be doing it.”
Ruttan agreed, “It probably should have senior levels of government leading it and paying for it. But we’re the ones, in the end, who are going to be most directly impacted. Not the least of which is our new sewage lagoon. What’s being asked for is convening a meeting just to get the ball rolling.”
Councillor Dan Washington suggested council take the directive to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities when they meet with the ministers and get the ball rolling from the provincial level first.
The committee’s third recommendation was to create a bylaw requiring a permit to use pesticides within city limits. Councillor Sharie Minions suggested the city should instead look at how to restrict use of pesticides in the city. Council asked for a staff report on restrictions instead of permits.
“There are situations where pesticides might be necessary, we’re not suggesting a ban of pesticides,” she said. “But there are a lot of situations where pesticides are not necessary and they’re used anyways. A permit system could help make sure that whenever they’re being used they are necessary.”
She mentioned that Port Alberni had a permit system at one point. “I’d like to hear more about what worked then and didn’t work. Maybe there’s a different way to bring this forward. I’m sure at the end of the day we all want to see a reduction of pesticides if they’re not necessary. I think this could educate us more, rather than just moving forward with this option.”
The fourth recommendation passed by council was to integrate bee-friendly plants in its procurement policies and work with community groups to host mason bees in community spaces.