When we start planning our annual Progress Edition, we begin with a theme. Usually, the theme comes easily: we observe the business and industrial communities in the months leading up to our June publication, and a trend usually emerges.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic on top of a challenging few months in forestry, coloured everything in the past few months. There was one thing we noticed, though: no one is giving up. Business continues to move forward in the Alberni Valley, albeit the picture doesn’t look the same as it did six months ago, for example.
In March, when our national economy was in the throes of a shutdown and debt was mounting at a level not seen since the end of the Second World War, chambers of commerce and Community Futures offices undertook a massive survey to find out how businesses were coping, and whether they expected to come out the other end of strict COVID-19 measures. Port Alberni’s results were among the most positive on Vancouver Island, and certainly in central Vancouver Island.
Nearly 80 percent of business owners surveyed said at the time they thought they would survive this economic burp, whose recessionary effects are still unknown.
Business owners got busy with adapting to quickly changing conditions: restaurants and coffee shops built takeout windows when the provincial health officer approved takeout, others quickly increased or even established ways for customers to continue shopping online, and yet others continued to invest their dollars in expansion.
Every one of them was trying to find a way to keep people employed, keep the local economy going, and ‘stay the course’ through a pandemic storm our generation has never experienced.
The dictionary definition of the phrase ‘stay the course’ means to continue with something even though the way may be difficult.
In nautical terms, suitable for a deepsea port such as Port Alberni’s, a stay is a strong rope that supports the mast of a ship. The stays allow sailors to tack, or change direction, while maintaining stability. The course is the direction in which a vessel is being steered.
We feel both of these define the resilience and determination of Alberni Valley business owners as they navigate 2020.
— Alberni Valley News