Music comes to Port Alberni’s waterfront

High school students hope to instil a sense of musical community at Harbour Quay.

Regan Pley

Port Alberni’s first public piano is soon to make its way over to the waterfront.

“It’s not going to take too much longer,” said Freya Knapp.

Knapp, along with Regan Pley, Frances Wilson and Becca Wilson are the four ADSS social justice students working on painting a piano to place down by the Harbour Quay.

The assignment handed out by their teacher Anne Oswald was to “actually go and do something to qualitatively make a difference in the community to make it a better place.”

Inspired by Nanaimo’s youth advisory committee’s project of painting pianos to set up around town, Knapp and her group decided that Port Alberni could use a little bit more music too.

“We thought it would bring a sense of community togetherness,” she said.

“Some of the ones in other cities have slogans that say ‘play me’ or ‘play music.’ Our is going to say ‘make melodies’ and it will be open for everyone to use—it’s a public piano.”

The four girls have spent over a dozen hours on the project so far.

“Including moving it and grabbing supplies it took us maybe 10-12 hours,” said Pley. The girls also fundraised via a bottle drive to cover the costs.

“We did get $50… for sandpaper and masks,” said Wilson.

They’ve spent the past few weeks painting the piano at a parent’s house and working with the city and merchants at Harbour Quay to lock down a specific location.

“It will be near where the RV parking is, under cover,” said Wilson (between Starboard Grill and the playground).

“That’s where Theresa [Kingston, director of community services] said it would be.”

The group is still working on getting the piano secured at the Quay.

“We’re still in the market for a chain and a bike lock,” said Knapp. While the piano will be a hard steal secured or not, the girls want to make sure that the stool to go with it doesn’t go anywhere as well.

“It’s not really that mobile but still,” said Pley. Although the piano will be protected from the elements, it’s still only going to be a summer-only installation.

“It’ll be there through the spring, summer, fall and when it gets really rainy we’ll find a new place for it,” said Knapp.

“And perhaps put it back in the summer if it’s successful this year.”

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