The City of Port Alberni’s decision not to support Kuu-us Crisis Line Society’s homelessness initiatives for federally-owned property at the former army cadet armoury is shocking at most and disappointing at the least.
Kuu-us submitted a bid to the federal government last June and was awarded the property—which the government was disposing of—in December. And now, mere weeks before they are due to move to their new Johnston Road digs from Argyle Street, the city has said it will not provide a letter of support necessary for Kuu-us to receive the property.
Mayor Ken McRae has said the decision is because there are possibly better uses for the property, which he labels some of the best commercial property on Vancouver Island. Council is also miffed that they had no say in who gets the land.
We also didn’t hear the city protest when the army cadets were forced to move from the armoury after nearly two decades.
The city isn’t sitting in a position of strength: they don’t own the Johnston Road property. The feds can sell it to whoever they want to.
The city can cry ‘land swap’ all they want, but one fact is clear: it doesn’t have a piece of land that is suitable for what Kuu-us wants. And Kuu-us is the society that won the bid for the federal property.
We agree the process used to get rid of federal buildings is flawed if the city cannot be involved at least in an informational capacity. But we believe the city should support this bid for the good of the community it serves. Not for the dream of more tax revenue—or better esthetics.