Year in Review 2014: May to June

As spring turned to summer, the Alberni Valley was bustling.

Alberni Valley News reporter Katya Slepian continues with our year in review of 2014.

 

Struggling to break even, the Bulldogs asked the city and the regional district for a break in ice rental fees. While they didn’t get all they wanted, they did get a 50 per cent reduction in operating fees from the city and a $25,000 grant from the regional district.

Superintendent Cam Pinkerton announced his departure from SD70 this month. The district, which has been plagued by a budget shortfall and school closures, will promote assistant superintendent Greg Smythe to the top job on Aug. 1.

Some good news for the struggling school district came in the form of a pilot project at Alberni Elementary. The project introduced tablets as a learning tool for Luke McIvor’s Grade Five class.

Outside of SD70, Haa-huu-payak Elementary expanded from K-6 to K-7 to reflect the anticipated switch in SD70 from a K-5, 6-8 and 9-12 model to a K-7 and 8-12 one.

Port Alberni has over twice the teen mothers of the rest of Vancouver Island and over three times what the rest of B.C. does. But while the statistics seem grim, young mothers here go to school and raise their kids, successfully straddling the line between being teenagers and being adults. Many of them go to VAST instead of ADSS, where they’re given support directly tailored to their needs.

The community remembered the Komugata Maru on the 100th anniversary of the ship’s arrival in Vancouver. Port Alberni almost had a role to play that could have seen the ship’s 376 passengers allowed to step off the ship onto Canadian soil but plans to get the ship to Alberni instead of Vancouver never came about.

Young and old came together in May, as students from ADSS volunteered as candy stripers at Echo Village and Fir Park. This year, the 15 students did everything from feeding the senior centres’ residents to painting their nails, picking up career skills in the process.

Peter Beyer, a 74-year-old retired marine parts salesman showed off his model train collection. Beyer and his friends have been collecting model trains since they were kids and he had 22 locomotives in his Alberni Valley home.

June started off on a sour note with a shooting that resulted  in one man seriously injured.

Port Alberni 16-year-old Coby Felsman Jr. beat the odds to earn a spot on the North American Indigenous Games as part of the U-16 team. He was one of five Vancouver Island boys to take make the team.

June saw the first class graduate from the new ADSS, as the old one was torn down. The library building was the only part of the old school that was left standing.

SD70 teachers voted to start a full-scale strike and commenced job action mid-month, putting school to and end for the 2013/14 year.

Alberni’s waterfront saw the beginnings of a long-term change with the city’s lease of Lots A and B to the Port Authority. While the process was criticized for a lack of public consultation, the city stated that the public had been duly informed.

That wasn’t all that happened to Port Alberni’s waterfront this month, with oil dumped into a catch basin making its way out into the waters by the Clutesi Haven Marina.

A positive development for the waterfront came in the form of a new beach at the old Esso property between Harbour Quay and Harbour Quay Marina.

The RCMP honoured the Moncton fallen during a solemn march down Redford Street.

The Alberni Valley Fringe Festival returned to the city for its second year. From Zelda to burlesque to a post-Alice Wonderland, Alberni came out to see a dozen shows with top-notch performers.

The old Somass Hotel’s fate was decided in June, with the Uchucklesaht deciding that if the cost to repair the building was going to be the same as building a new one, it was better to build anew.

Residents received reassurance from the city’s economic development manager that despite the 2008 recession, Port Alberni was doing well. While the forest industry was seen as unlikely to once again become the behemoth it was in earlier years, Alberni’s mills diversified and survived the recession.

More economic development could be in store for the Alberni Valley, with the Port Authority pitching a transshipment hub that could see fibre shipped abroad from Sarita Bay, close to the mouth of the Alberni Inlet.

West  Coast General Hospital also received a boost, with an expected $3.4 million emergency room upgrade.

McLean Mill also some changes, with a plan to increase ridership and introduce vendors into the train station.

Reducing ice fees for the Bulldogs claimed its first casualty, with long-time parks and recreation programmer Ron Paulson on the chopping block.

Our year in review will continue in Thursday’s paper.

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