A rainbow glows over Third Avenue in Port Alberni’s Uptown core, the four-lane road glistening after a recent winter rainstorm. (MIKE YOUDS/ Special to the News)

EDITORIAL: Attitude adjustment needed for Port Alberni’s Uptown improvements

The Third Avenue beautification project has drawn a huge amount of attention…

The Third Avenue beautification project has drawn a huge amount of attention and input from Port Alberni residents and beyond since it was first revealed the City of Port Alberni is considering spending money on the Uptown area in its 2020 budget.

Our informal web poll elicited nearly 1,450 votes—well above the usual participation—and community members engaged in healthy debate with their impassioned views of whether the city should spend up to $1.5 million on the plan. This would include some city funding and some grant funding.

The topic has divided people’s views of Uptown.

There is a crime prevention theory called the broken window theory that, simplified, says if a broken window is left unrepaired it signifies that no one cares—therefore, it costs nothing and encourages more broken windows. Repair the window quickly, and it discourages more vandalism.

Rather than pointing out all the negatives about Uptown, we should be looking at the positives. Start taking pride in the area, and others may either change their attitudes too or go elsewhere.

Beautification of Third Avenue has been a line item in the city’s strategic plan or budget for the past decade. While now is admittedly a tough time to be looking at investing taxpayer money in anything, this is not a new or pie-in-the-sky idea. The city has methodically examined ways it can improve the aesthetic of the area through a façade improvement program, a graffiti bylaw, increasing its bylaw department, and now, looking at traffic flow and other small ways to improve.

More so, businesses are investing money in improvements and others are opening in the area because they have confidence in its appeal.

There are those who feel improvements are misdirected, and should be focused on Johnston Road, where we can catch the tourists on their way to Tofino. Improvements to the Uptown will ultimately benefit other areas of the city as well.

Last year Port Alberni hosted three cruise ships, with activities centred around Harbour Quay and Third Avenue. While there were hundreds of visitors from the ships checking out the area, these visits attracted just as many local residents.

We should be looking at proposed beautification on Third Avenue as something that will benefit those who live here as much as those who visit. The change in attitude has already started with the inclusion of new businesses and spruced up buildings.

Now all we need to do is consider changing our outlook of Uptown.

— Alberni Valley News

Municipal GovernmentPort Alberni

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