To the Editor,
The recent announcement by the San Group that it is planning to build a sawmill on the property across from the Barclay Hotel is not welcome news. The historic exploitation of our waterfront lands by industry must not continue.
It is unfortunately typical of Port Alberni, that the long-term and sustainable development of our shoreline/waterfront is sacrificed for a few jobs. Recently, a local citizens group developed the 20/20 Vision which called on city planners to ensure the waterfront is reclaimed and designated for mixed use development. It is now up to the new city council to establish a long term vision for land use—balancing the needs and aspirations of all residents with a diversified economic plan, rather than allowing industry to dictate the course of our community’s development. Every resident in our diverse populace must be considered in the urban planning process – not just those with industry affiliations. A corporation has a social responsibility to the community where it does business and must be sensitive to the impact of its business decisions on all people and the local environment.
Mills belong in industrial areas designated by council, ensuring that industrial truck traffic is diverted from the centre of town and away from residential and shopping areas. Livability must take priority when approving such projects.
Fifty industrial jobs is a drop in the bucket compared to what could be developed on that parcel of land. Former industrial lands have been reclaimed with spectacular success—False Creek in Vancouver, the Gorge and Inner Harbour in Victoria, Swy-A-Lana Lagoon in Nanaimo are all examples of planning for the future and the highest and best use of shoreline properties. Port Alberni can do the same and become the jewel of the Alberni Inlet with intelligent forethought and planning.