The City of Port Alberni celebrates 50 years

SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, Port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns cut a special cake (donated by Quality Foods) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the city’s amalgamation.
John McNabb with city freeman Jim Sawyer and this 1967 Olds 442 originally bought at Katilla’s by Mike Linden and now owned by McNabb. SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO
Alberni Teens Can Rock performed at the 50th anniversary of Port Alberni’s amalgamation. SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO
Kiwanis members Chris and Dan Washington and Stormy and Greg Holland prepared the hotdogs for the first 100 to attend the celebration. SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO
The Alberni District Secondary School band performed at the 50th anniversary of Port Alberni’s amalgamation. SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO
Past Mayor and Freeman of the city Ken McRae and Jennifer Norn granddaughter of the late Ali and Jack Jowsey that opened their business in North Port in 1947 pose with the picture board at Echo Centre. SONJA DRINKWATER PHOTO

The city of Port Alberni held a celebration on Saturday for the 50th anniversary of the amalgamation of the twin cities of Alberni and Port Alberni.

The celebration kicked off with performances from local talent Alberni Teens Can Rock and the Alberni District Secondary School band, and finished with a ceremonial cake cutting.

Port Alberni mayor Mike Ruttan gave a speech, where he talked about the history of Port Alberni’s amalgamation. Although the idea had been kicking around since World War II, the main event that crystallized support for amalgamation was the Good Friday earthquake and tsunami in 1964, which resulted in $5 million in damages.

“The city councils of that day knew that together they would be stronger,” said Ruttan. “They could build new infrastructure and a better future for their citizens.”

He shared a quotation from Fred Bishop, the first mayor of the new city of Port Alberni: “If there’s value in joining together in adversity, there must be value in joining together for progress.”

An amalgamation referendum was held on October 17, 1964, stipulating that a 60 percent vote was needed to accept amalgamation. The citizens of Port Alberni voted 72.5 percent yes, and the citizens of Alberni voted 93.6 percent yes.

The two cities officially amalgamated during a ceremony on October 28, 1967, to correspond with Canada’s centennial.

“Today, after 50 years, we’re incredibly proud of our city,” said Ruttan. “We have a vision of where we want to go and how we want to get there. We’re world-renowned for our generosity, work ethic and ability to help one another. We’re often referred to as ‘the community with a heart.’ And for good reason.”

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