The City of Port Alberni has entered the public engagement stage of its proposed quay to quay waterfront walkway.
The city is proposing a route to connect Victoria Quay and Harbour Quay at an approximate cost of $7 million. The city hosted its third, in-person public engagement session on Oct. 6 at Echo Centre, which drew dozens of residents with questions, concerns and suggestions about the pathway. The first session was a pop-up booth at the Fall Fair, followed by another pop-up booth at Blair Park on Sept. 26.
“We’ve had a steady stream of people tonight,” said deputy CAO Scott Smith on Oct. 6. “There are lots of good discussions going on. That’s really great to see, because more feedback makes for a better plan.”
The city started work on the “Connect the Quays” pathway back in 2020 by submitting a grant application and engaging with property owners and local First Nations. The proposed pathway will be approximately four kilometres in length, extending from Harbour Quay to Victoria Quay and linking with existing trail systems along the way.
The city’s “vision” for the pathway is a flat or gently sloped, asphalt, multi-modal, non-motorized, two-way route that will be lit for comfortable use at night and to provide a safe, family-friendly active transportation corridor.
The pathway is also a chance to celebrate local Indigenous culture and history, with place names in Nuu-chah-nulth language.
Although the city has published a proposed route for the path, Smith says this is not the finalized route. That will be announced sometime after the last public engagement session, scheduled for Nov. 3. The city has hired PWL Partnership Landscaping and John S. Manson P. Engineering to complete the public engagement phase of the project, and after consultants have gathered all the public input, a report will come to city council with next steps.
And, of course, the whole project hinges on whether or not the city receives grant funding.
The city has budgeted $7.2 million over three years (2021-2023) for the pathway, but part of this budget comes from grants. Two applications have been submitted so far—one for approximately $2.5 million and another for approximately $500,000.
The results have not yet been announced.
If the funding is approved, the project must be completed by 2026—which is why the city is trying to ensure they have a plan ready.
“We know we won’t be able to do this all at one time,” said Smith. “We want to hear what the priority areas are.”
The city is looking for answers about how people want to use the pathway and their priorities for the pathway design and route. The path is currently divided into four “segments:”
– Victoria Quay to Roger Creek Park
– Roger Creek Park to Roger Street
– Roger Street to Stamp Avenue
– Stamp Avenue to Harbour Quay
City staff and consulting staff were available on Thursday to answer questions and listen to comments from members of the public. Some people were concerned about pedestrian crossings along the route, while others were interested in links to existing trails.
Smith says the city has also been getting “lots of feedback” about the path through an online survey. The survey can be found at www.letsconnectpa.ca.
The final open house will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 at the Echo Centre (Cedar Room) from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Residents who have not had a chance to provide feedback on the pathway are welcome to join.
“We’re trying to give everyone an opportunity to give feedback,” said Smith.