Water, water all around is Port Alberni’s biggest strength, according to 943 respondents to a survey carried out by economic development manager Pat Deakin and his rebranding committee.
“‘Water in all forms’ was identified as the greatest assets,” said Deakin.
“Based on the response to ‘what above all else should the community be known for relative to other communities on Vancouver Island,’ the branding direction would seem to be water-oriented,” Deakin told council while presenting the interim branding update. He noted that water did not only mean water for recreational purposes but also for marine industrial and drinking water uses.
Other directions included playing up the community’s art, carvings and the famous waterbombers, said Deakin.
His branding committee—made up of business owners, politicians and city staffers—lowered the average age in the room to something closer to Deakin’s target market; millennials.
“Our target market is young people and young families 25 to 45 years of age who are entrepreneurially minded, family oriented, adventurous, enjoy an active lifestyle, desire an opportunity to contribute to growth, well-educated and skilled professionals or tradespeople,” Deakin’s report read.
While outdoor recreational spots such as Harbour Quay, Sproat Lake and the Valley’s hiking trails were identified as strengths, the city’s aging infrastructure, empty and rundown buildings and lack of businesses and jobs were seen as the major downsides.
Coun. Jack McLeman queried Deakin as to what sorts of jobs the respondents of the survey—41 per cent within Deakin’s target millennial group—wanted.
“Something that would provide a living wage or better,” said Deakin, pointing to CanTimber Biotech’s recent 25 job openings as a good example.
High tech jobs are also in high demand, said Deakin.
Next steps for the branding committee will include analyzing the results of the survey and presenting a final report with recommendations to council in October.