The Canadian Mental Health Association in Port Alberni is located on Second Ave. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO

CMHA Port Alberni to launch community clean-up crew

CMHA received a $51,500 grant from city

Port Alberni’s Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) will be developing a community clean-up crew thanks to a $50,000 start-up grant from the city of Port Alberni.

Mark Zenko, the associate director of CMHA Port Alberni, was in council chambers on Tuesday, Nov. 12. He explained that CMHA runs a transitional employment program for people with barriers to employment. The program currently provides lawn mowing for Catalyst Paper and janitorial services at the Capitol Theatre.

“We’re always looking for other opportunities to grow that program,” he said.

He proposed a community clean-up crew, consisting of a part-time coordinator and two workers who will be hired for three days a week and three hours a day. The crew will pick up garbage and needles throughout the city and return shopping carts.

READ MORE: Port Alberni installs sharps containers for needle disposal

CMHA requested $51,500 from the city. The funding will just be used to launch the program, with the hopes that it will become self-sustainable by working within the private sector.

“From that you’ll get cleaner streets and public spaces, an opportunity to employ some residents, improve social stability for those that are in the program and it also helps to meet your strategic priorities,” said Zenko.

READ MORE: Port Alberni city council reveals 2019-2023 strategic plan

Council agreed to authorize a one-time grant of $51,500 to CMHA, comprised of existing 2019 budget funds. The funds are in reserve within the “Sustainability and Community Development” areas of the budget.

Zenko says he anticipates getting the crew on the ground and running prior to Christmas this year.

Mayor Sharie Minions expressed her support for the program on Tuesday.

“As property crime has increased in the community, there’s certainly been an increase in frustration that we see and hear from our community members about some of the messes that are left behind,” she said. “And I think this not only addresses the cleanliness of our community…it also gives purpose to people who need our support and gives them an opportunity to work.”

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