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Entrance to town sees growth

Close to 1,000 fir trees are being planted behind Coombs Country Candy
port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan, left, and ACRD director Lucas Banton plant fir trees to beautify the entrance to Port Alberni behind Coombs Country Candy. KARLY BLATS PHOTO

Close to 1,000 sequoia and Douglas fir trees are being planted behind Coombs Country Candy in order to beautify the entrance to Port Alberni along Highway 4.

The planting is a joint initiative between the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District and City of Port Alberni; Island Timberlands donated the immature trees.

“It’s all part of beautification,” Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan said. Informal discussions have taken place with city council about working with the regional district and chamber of commerce to change the sight line as you drive into the Alberni Valley from the Hump, and this is the result, he added.

“The forest companies have finished their planting so that’s why they’ve given us their extra trees,” Ruttan said. “These are special trees, these firs have come from southern Oregon. They’re engineered to be able to handle a drier climate.”

Lucas Banton, Cherry Creek director with the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, said he’s been working on this initiative for a while.

“Mayor Ruttan was able to kind of pull all the pieces together and as a result we have something that will be a great solution; beautifying our entrance,” Banton said. “This is going to provide a backdrop to block out what’s behind the billboards.”

Trees were planted behind the billboards closest to Coombs Country Candy, while others were planted on the highway allowance on both sides of the highway from the candy shop to the visitors’ centre. No trees were planted on private property, Ruttan added.

Murray Lawlor, Coombs Country Candy owner said he is on board with planting happening on his land behind the candy store.

“This is about the third time that people have tried to plant down there and it’s been difficult, nothing seems to grow,” Lawlor said “But anything that will grow up behind the signs to maybe hide the auto wrecker will be great, I’m on side with it.”

Students from Ryan Dvorak’s forestry class at ADSS did most of the planting, Ruttan said; all the trees were slated to be in the ground by the end of last week and each will be protected with a stake and a cage.

“When the trees come in, you’ll see this avenue of big trees. It will take 20 to 30 years but you have to start somewhere.”

— With files from

Susan Quinn, editor