The NIMBYS in Westporte have won in the Rainbow Gardens dispute, and that is disappointing.
There was no compromise to a proposed sale of Westporte Park to accommodate expansion of Rainbow Gardens senior facility. Instead, the city stopped any chance of development by voting against bylaw changes that would have facilitated the sale.
Sure, the city should have clarified its position on the replacement park, and residents could have come up with some concrete ideas of what they feel is necessary for the new park. That didn’t happen.
We lost a golden opportunity to have a positive discussion about how Rainbow Gardens’ expansion plans and subsequent relinquishment of the existing city park could work for all parties.
Some Westporte residents failed to get the message that this is an existing society that wants to expand its operations in the vicinity of its present facility. Residents instead told Rainbow Gardens there were plenty of ‘other places’ they could build a seniors’ facility.
That attitude is shortsighted.
We need every sort of service for seniors here in the Alberni Valley. We need independent living units; we need assisted living units; we need acute care. We can’t afford to turn any of it down.
What sort of message are we sending to businesses that want to expand or come into the Alberni Valley, if we shoot down an idea so thoroughly before it even has time to take root?
What does it say to Island Health if we as a community won’t even listen to the West Coast Native Health Society’s plan—no matter that the plan wasn’t as detailed as it could have been? It says we’re not open for business. And that’s a shame.
— Alberni Valley News