Give city character a chance

If the City of Port Alberni chooses one budget item to splurge on, we hope it is rewriting form and character development guidelines.

If the City of Port Alberni could only choose one new budget item to splurge on, we hope it is planner Scott Smith’s suggestion to spend $40,000 rewriting form and character development guidelines. And we hope he hires an outside consultant to do the job.

Form and character development permits provide clarity of what future buildings can look like, from exterior design, signage and siting down to landscaping and how they fit in with existing buildings. They provide context for neighbourhoods, and can define density to a point.

While some might say these types of permits limit development, others see it as a way to help developers follow a community’s vision.

They are a big step toward revitalization.

The reason we hope an outside consultant is put on the job, is that someone needs to take a hard look at Port Alberni and what we could look like—and we don’t seem to be able to arrive at any decisions on our own.

On one end of the spectrum we have beautiful west coast-inspired buildings such as Chances RimRock, the clinic on Maple Way and the Tseshaht administration building.

On the other, we have bland, uninspired buildings uptown with a smattering of colour, and no real thought or theme to any of it.

If a consultant can come up with a cohesive concept for Port Alberni—not a hodgepodge of indecision and indifference—we would consider this money well spent.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS