Time to say farewell

Reporter Katya Slepian says goodbye.

A former fire chief snaps a photo of my attempt to drive the Port Alberni Fire Department's vintage fire truck.

The one cardinal rule of being a reporter: never make the paper.

It’s a rule I’ve broken just three times over my almost two-and-half-years with the News—once when I started here, once in a letter to the editor and once just last week when I was half of a council delegation on bike racks.

Today, I’m breaking it for the final time as I bid the community farewell.

I came to Port Alberni in July 2014 straight out of journalism school with no idea of what was in store for me.

My first, panicked day ended with a city council meeting. I took rushed and scrambled notes on new transit passes, a proposed water treatment plant and pot bellied pigs. What seemed like a billion strangers shook my hand and welcomed me to the community. The fire chief gave me his card and told me they’d be demonstrating a pier rescue in the morning—did I want to come?

I did indeed, although I wasn’t quite sure what I was agreeing to. I almost fell off the pier trying to get a good enough shot.

Saying yes first and considering the implications later became standard practice—a month in I met a machete-wielding logging road engineer in a ravine based only on a text from our then-mayor.

I stumbled into journalism by accident. The daughter of an engineer who never answered the question of ‘why is the sky blue?’ with ‘because,’ the thought of pestering people for a living appealed to me greatly.

I’ve learned plenty in my time here: I’ve hiked through old growth, seen every bit of the city’s water system, stood on top of the Philippine Mars and was embedded with Vancouver’s Task Force 1 heavy urban search and rescue team for Exercise Coastal Response. I’ve seen more sewage in the past two years than you’ll see in your lifetime.

This job has come with incredible perks—I’ve driven a fire truck, skated on frozen lakes and made a water buffalo BFF.

Reporting, like every job, has its negatives. I’ve covered murders, child predators and countless car accidents. I’ve seen people’s entire lives go up in flames before their eyes. But I’ve also seen the good. A woman giving up a kidney so a stranger could live. City works crews up in the middle of the night so the water never stops flowing from your tap. Countless people who welcomed me into their homes and made me part of their lives.

The good in Port Alberni outweighs the bad. Many of the people above have become personal friends. I’ve collaborated with others on projects outside my work—including as part of the Young Professionals. See the Dry Creek Community Garden and the tsunami public art project? That’s us. Soon, a series of bike racks will adorn your streets courtesy of the group and many generous partners.

A few us of are kiteboarding, running and watching sunsets in the city’s ‘I get it’ campaign. It’s a legacy I’m proud to be a part of.

Today’s edition of the paper will be my last. On Monday, I join Black Press’ digital team in Surrey. I hope you’ll welcome my replacement as warmly as you did me.

Just Posted

Alberni valedictorian is proud of his time at ADSS

Jayden Iversen was voted valedictorian of the 2019 graduating class

Musical fundraiser in Port Alberni supports life after loss

Camp Kerry Society raising funds to provide grief and loss supports to children and youth

No ‘imminent’ health risks at McLean Mill, says medical health officer

Remediation costs for historic site raises concerns

Port Alberni resident assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

Butterflies released in Port Alberni in memory of loved ones

Alberni Valley Hospice Society hosts fourth annual ‘Butterfly Effect’

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Most Read