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LETTER: Port Alberni has chance to either build or protect flood plain

To the Editor,
Jo and Timothy Gislason, left, look at the scenery from the waterfront walkway that opened on the Somass lands July 1, 2022. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

To the Editor,

The City of Port Alberni owns the former Somass Mill site and most of the waterfront land between Paper Excellence’s Catalyst paper mill and the Harbour Quay, including Dry Creek (aka Owatchet Creek). According to an author of a recent study in the journal Nature, “we’ve lost control of melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.” That ice sheet alone would account for five metres of sea level rise in Port Alberni.

So I must ask, what is the city’s vision for Somass and the railway lands over the next century when they all sit barely two metres above sea level today? These are a filled, and paved, beach.

The citizens involved in the Restore Dry Creek group urge the city and developer to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to restore the creek, beach (clam beds?), and shoreline and shift everything back to the businesses on Third Avenue. We could create a fantastic waterfront drive like Parksville and Ladysmith with the railway and Quay to Quay path along the shore integrating natural and built protections from storms, floods, and sea rise.

This is our chance. Over the next 100 years, the restored Owatchet Bay and Creek could be the city’s protector, or the city’s liability. Which will the city choose?

Chris Alemany,

Port Alberni