Editorial: City focus on Port Alberni’s Johnston Rd a good direction

Johnston Road is an important corridor for tourism and for residents of the Alberni Valley, as well.

The City of Port Alberni kicked off a design and consultation process late last year—a charrette—asking the community what it envisions for Johnston Road. This is an important corridor for the city and the rest of the Alberni Valley, as it guides everyone from the east side of Vancouver Island to the west, and is the main entrance to the Valley itself.

The city has focused on South Port off and on for several years since the Uptown and Waterfront Redevelopment plan was released in 2007. There is a vision in place, whether people follow it or not. The timing is right to switch focus to Johnston Road, with the attitude that if people like what they see on Johnston Road, they might be enticed to explore further off the main track.

With the Waterfront North Study completed, and West Coast Aquatic vying for federal cash for major salmon habitat restoration, the area where Johnston Road meets the Somass River—at Victoria Quay and Clutesi Haven Marina—could potentially be a gem. Now is the time to look at long-term planning.

One aspect of any development on Johnston Road we feel is important is it cannot be solely tourism focused. There are 18,000 people—give or take—who live in the Alberni Valley and Johnston is a main transportation corridor for them too. Any planning needs to make sense for the people who live in the area. We think both can be achieved, and are heartened at the beginning of this process.

The city put some money and effort into planters last year that drew compliments throughout the growing season. It’s a good start.

—Alberni Valley News