To the Editor,
A lot of folks in my hometown of Port Alberni are going through tough economic times as the Western Forest Product strike creeps into its seventh month. Port has gone through challenging periods before and the community has always rallied together to overcome adversity and will do so again.
I have fond memories of growing up during the 1960s and ‘70s when the town was booming and Third Avenue was the place to shop and conduct business. The sidewalks were packed with young families and the street filled with cars.
Many a warm summer night was spent hanging out on the corner of Third and Mar Street with my kid brother and our neighbourhood pals gazing at the muscle cars cruising “the strip”, debating about which was the coolest to own once we were old enough to drive.
By contrast today, Third Avenue has ceased to be the bustling hub as many businesses have re-located to North Port to take advantage of the tourist traffic passing through enroute to the west coast. Long gone are the hordes of shoppers and traffic jams…and the bench we use to sit on all those summers ago.
The economic power of the lumber industry has diminished over the years, embattled by environmental concerns, a dwindling supply and the exportation of logs off shore. No longer the main driving force behind the province’s financial engine, our government’s involvement has been limited in resolving the stalemate.
It’s been said the real test of character is revealed in how people respond when faced with a major crisis. If this is true then the people of P.A. exemplify the strength of the human spirit with their unwavering resilience, deep compassion and uncompromising loyalty to their hometown.
Forestry in our province is considered a sunset industry and will never be as it once was, but the future bodes well for Port Alberni and its citizens who will continue to adjust and re-invent themselves to the changing times.
I moved to Vancouver almost 40 years ago after being laid off from the Somass green chain but in my heart Port will always be home.
Editor’s Note: Wes Fung is a proud 1979 ADSS graduate.