Port Alberni is becoming the hub for a blue economy.
Coastal Restoration Society has selected Port Alberni as its permanent hub for coastal restoration initiatives. The announcement was made public on May 9.
The society has a number of projects that provide employment while ensuring that the ocean ecosystem remains healthy, from site remediation to shoreline cleanups to stock assessment and monitoring of marine wildlife.
Captain Josh Temple, executive director of CRS, said they chose Port Alberni as a hub for a few reasons.
“Obviously, its geographical location is central to a lot of our operating area,” he said. “There is a tremendous amount of advantages from a logistical standpoint. It’s a great hub for our operations up and down Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea.”
Port Alberni also has one of the highest Indigenous populations per capita on Vancouver Island, which aligns with the society’s “First Nations First” policy.
Coastal Restoration Society strives to ensure that meaningful employment and contract opportunities are provided to local Indigenous people first.
And the third reason?
“We just really like Port Alberni,” Temple laughed.
Coastal Restoration Society has developed “very close working relationships” with Tseshaht First Nation, Hupacasath First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, said Temple, and CRS also has a lot of support from the City of Port Alberni and its mayor and council. The society already has a temporary access permit in place with the city which allows them to use the waterfront.
“The vision they have—shifting from a resource-based economy to an economy more centred around blue and green opportunities—fits really well with our ethos,” said Temple. “Really—where else would we have landed?”
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions took to social media after the announcement to congratulate CRS.
“This society is doing incredible work stewarding environmental leadership and we are so proud to become the hub of their activities,” she said. “We look forward to supporting their continued growth in our area in the years to come.”
Temple says CRS is in the process of purchasing a building in Port Alberni, but CRS is also looking to secure some light industrial land on the city’s waterfront in the coming months.
“We’re in discussion with a few landowners,” Temple said.
CRS has done plenty of work on the west coast of Vancouver Island over the past few years and in the Barkley Sound and Clayoquot Sound, from beach cleanups to the removal of derelict vessels and even management of invasive species.
In Port Alberni, CRS is “just getting started,” said Temple.
“This is just setting the stage for some very large-scale work coming down the pipeline,” he said.
Much of this work depends on funding, but the society has already undertaken a sub-tidal survey of the Alberni Harbour. They plan to “really remediate” some of the industrial deposits left behind by more than 100 years of waterfront use with shoreline cleanups and ghost gear retrieval.
The society is also developing some mitigation and control plans for an infestation of invasive European Green crabs.