Editorial: Is Alberni’s second-hand reputation out of control?

South Port hasn't been able to shake its poor-cousin reputation when it comes to development.

South Port, or Uptown Port Alberni, hasn’t been able to shake its poor-cousin reputation when it comes to development, business and aesthetics, despite many complaining about it.

Buildings remain empty in the area, others remain in need of some serious exterior TLC; the lot where a building burned down on Argyle Street a few years ago remains undeveloped.

Last year the area was favoured for those competing for a marijuana dispensary licence, and half a dozen cropped up before Wee Medical was selected. A bylaw process had to be taken to limit where dispensaries could be located.

A concerning observation of late is the proliferation of second-hand stores that have cropped up in the area. One count showed eight second-hand or thrift stores within three blocks of Third Avenue and Argyle Street. While there is value of having thrift stores in a city, does Port Alberni really need that kind of concentration in one area?

The City of Port Alberni, during its Johnston Road Charrette, noted people would like to see diverse businesses encouraged to open on Johnston Road—those that might entice tourists to stay, or at least stop on their way through town.

There needs to be a similar way of thinking for South Port, and it needs to come from both the community and those who own property uptown.

The city can’t dictate what businesses go into a building, if zoning allows that type of business, says CAO Tim Pley.

Which means the market dictates whether and how many of a certain type of business will survive, and the community needs to dictate what they would like to see in the area.

Alberni Valley News