Westporte residents pan development

Close to 100 people came out to a public meeting about the fate of 8.1 hectares in Westporte on Nov. 18—and many were not pleased.

Close to 100 Port Alberni residents gather at Echo Centre to tell the city about their concerns for possible development around Westporte.

Close to 100 people came out to a public meeting about the fate of 8.1 hectares in Westporte on Nov. 18—and many were not pleased.

“The City of Port Alberni is considering the possibility of issuing a call for proposal,” city planner Scott Smith told the crowd.

Currently, just east of Westporte are 68-acres of city owned green space—currently earmarked as future development in the official community plan.

The city is proposing that the western 8.1 hectares (approximately 20 acres) be developed.

To assuage concerns about a possible Rainbow Gardens expansion into the current 0.6 ha Westporte park elsewhere in the neighbourhood, any developer would be required to develop 0.8 ha of the proposed area into an active park.

The top 8.5 ha (21 acres) of the 68-acre plot would remain as natural park area, while the remaining southeast portion would be untouched.

Mayor Mike Ruttan told the crowd that gathered at Echo Centre on Nov. 18 that seniors’ housing was still a priority for the city, despite their dissatisfaction with Rainbow Gardens’ previous proposal.

“Council wasn’t completely satisfied with what we’d been presented,” said Ruttan.

“But that doesn’t alter the increasing need to deal with housing for seniors.”

He cited the city’s concerns over the more than 175 seniors living at home who need other care and seniors inappropriately housed at the hospital.

“Island Health is projecting a 96 per cent increase in the 75 and older population by 2034—that’s not that far in the distance.”

But while Westporte residents said they understood the need for seniors’ housing, the weren’t pleased with the way the city was going about it.

“You’ve totally dismissed the idea that moving the park elsewhere would endanger our children,” one Westporte resident told Ruttan.

“Do you want to be the council that pulled down this great forest?” another resident asked to applause from the audience.

Drainage was also a concern, with residents in the area telling the city that “groundwater is a serious problem in the winter.”

“I don’t see how it would be possible for the city to redo all of the drainage system in the area,” said a resident.

Smith assured residents that any development of the 8.1 ha would require a storm water management plan and “cannot increase past pre-development levels.”

Questions were also asked of why a seniors’ facility couldn’t go anywhere in South Port, where empty land is available, or at the former high school site on Burde Street.

“There’s tons of land available to be developed in South Port… I really don’t get why we’re going out into the middle of the bush?”

This is the second time this year that the city has grappled publicly with what the right course of action should be for Westporte.

In December, Rainbow Gardens proposed an expansion of their seniors’ facility into the neighbouring Westporte Park.

Their proposal would have required the city to sell the park to Rainbow Gardens.

The sale was panned by Westporte residents, who took issue with almost everything to do with the sale—the mere $163,000 Rainbow Gardens would pay, the safety of a proposed replacement park to the northeast of the current one, and the fact that many of the residents moved to the neighbourhood specifically for the existing park.

This time however, Rainbow Gardens board member Daniel Watts said that despite a community notice sent out to Westporte residents by the City of Port Alberni mentioning a “possible sale of park space to Rainbow Gardens,” no new proposals had been sent forth from the seniors facility.

Coun. Sharie Minions, who sits of the city’s Rainbow Gardens committee, confirmed that Rainbow Gardens was only informed of the public meeting approximately a week ahead of time.

Didn’t make it to the meeting but want your opinion heard? Visit http://www.portalberni.ca/public-surveys and fill out the city’s survey.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

Deadline looming for North Island College scholarship applications

Students have until April 24 to apply for a record number of… Continue reading

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read