Harbour Quay will be off-limits to all but service and delivery traffic on May 22 to make way for visiting cruise ship passengers.
The Holland America Cruise Line ship Amsterdam will be stopping in Port Alberni from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of a three-day trip from Vancouver, around the southern tip of Vancouver Island and to Seattle.
The ship will be carrying 1,200 to 1,500 people, approximately 900 of them passengers.
On previous cruise ship visits, passengers were ferried to the Port Alberni Port Authority dock by the lighthouse.
This time however, the ship will dock closer to Harbour Quay, and passengers will be ferried to the new breakwater in 20-minute cycles then make their way up to the quay, Parks and Recreation director Scott Kenny said.
The closure will take place in two phases. Firstly, the quay will be closed starting from Harbour Road in the morning to allow for the initial surge of passengers. Once they have left, the closure will be collapsed to the quay fountain to allow for traffic again.
There will be no buses waiting to load passengers by the pier, Kenny said. Instead, they will be waiting at Harbour Road and Argyle Street. “We want them to walk through the quay,” Kenny said.
Acting mayor Dan Washington cautioned that the road is busy with industrial and pedestrian traffic during the morning.
Kenny replied that he had talked to Port Alberni Port Authority official Dave McCormick, who assured him that he would alert partner groups to expect more traffic and delays that day.
Harbour Quay business were initially tepid about the idea, fearing that it would negatively impact their operations, Kenny said.
In a letter to city council, merchants’ concerns ranged from how many people will be left to walk the quay after buses have whisked them off. As well, the ship’s mid-week visit will further reduce the number of shoppers. And finally, elderly customers may change their minds about coming to the quay if they know they’ll have to make a walk of it from Harbour Road.
Several business owners who originally signed the letter asked to have their names removed from it after receiving further information, their letter later noted.
Business owners also felt that the matter wasn’t communicated to them adequately. City councillors asked Kenny who was responsible for communicating the issue: the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce or the city?
“They’ve been informed about this,” Kenny said.