EDITORIAL: History repeats on waterfront

No one should surprised that Port Alberni city council's decision to sell the former plywood lots has the public upset.

It should surprise no one that Port Alberni city council’s declaration last week that they want to sell former plywood lots A and B to Canadian Maritime Engineering has upset the masses.

Residents opposed a similar deal two years ago, when the city leased the land to the Port Alberni Port Authority, who in turn were unsuccessful in securing a deal with CME, who was looking at building ships with its Port Alberni branch, Canadian Alberni Engineering.

The land sat unused for almost a year, until the public cried loud enough that the city cancelled the lease.

Everyone thought that ship had sailed—until last week, when council all of a sudden announced the pending sale, minus the middleman.

Land discussions typically take place in camera under the Community Charter, and there will still be a public hearing process. But the lack of transparency in this case is glaring.

One has to wonder whether the land will sit empty again, while taxpayers and council engage in a dust-up.

When one of council’s own publicly pans the decision-making process, as councillor Chris Alemany has, you’ve got to wonder.

The selling price is low, but the remediation costs will be high, as will the cost of public opinion. The city has chosen a marine industrial direction for the land: let’s hope something actually happens on the site this time.

Optics mean everything in this city. A decision such as the one surrounding the sale of the plywood lots causes one to question whether city hall is wearing blinders.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS

 

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