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EDITORIAL: Port Alberni ending year with positives in business

Port Alberni will wrap up 2020 with a $13-million gift from Paper Excellence
Paper Excellence Canada will be investing $13 million in its Port Alberni paper mill to streamline production of food-grade paper. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Port Alberni will wrap up 2020 with a $13-million gift from Paper Excellence, in the form of the most significant upgrade to the paper mill since 2008.

This is good news for heavy industry in the city, and it shows the rest of the province that business has confidence in our city.

Paper Excellence identified a growing trend in food grade paper products and found a way to make the paper plant relevant again in a declining economy. While their investment is significant, it is by no means the only investment made in the Alberni Valley this year.

Despite the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked since March, the city is poised to finish the year on a strong note business wise. San Group is making progress with its wood remanufacturing plant, numerous small businesses pivoted to remain open, and others actually opened mid-coronavirus pandemic.

Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences (PCU-WHS) on Monday saw its first-ever student graduate from the Bachelor of Disability Management degree program. With a larger cohort facing graduation in 2021, Wolfgang Zimmerman called Monday’s graduation ‘a small but major milestone’ for the university.

Canadian Maritime Engineering is due to complete a major shipbuilding project this month as well, and the Port Alberni Port Authority managed to open its food hub in the former fish processing plant, establish a food truck pod at Clutesi Haven Marina and advance plans for a floating dock in 2020.

There are numerous success stories to be found; we have touched on a very few.

READ: Domestic violence on the rise in Port Alberni during COVID-19 pandemic

Socially, we have work to do. Homelessness and all that goes with it is back in focus. Domestic violence numbers doubled during COVID-19 isolation, and while crime went down, it is still visible. People continue to struggle with isolation and masks and staying away from our loved ones under public health orders.

Looking back one year ago, our community was in the throes of a forestry strike. Things got worse when COVID-19 hit. Yet here we are, 365 days and 180 degrees beyond, and things are looking up.

— Alberni Valley News