The Port Alberni Port Authority, along with its predecessor, the harbour commission, has been seen as a valued part of the area’s infrastructure due to its long history of securing benefits for the town as well as the many jobs that its activities have created both directly and indirectly.
However, this view may change due to the port’s recent involvement with Compliance Coal. Manager David McCormick in a Nov. 3, 2010 letter attempted to clarify the port authority’s position with regard to Raven Coal Mine’s proposal to use the port’s property to dump, store and load coal for shipment to China.
In his letter McCormick states that the port has a vested interest in this proposal like any other resident, business and organization in the community.
This is an over- simplification of their position. The port authority is not like any other resident, business or organization in the community. For one thing, if any of the above were to deny their services or their facilities to Raven it would not change Raven’s ability to ship the coal. Obviously there are degrees of vested interest and it is evident that the port’s is large, if not the largest.
This fact is obscured by Mr. McCormick’s attempts to place his corporation on equal footing within the group mentioned above. The tone of his letter also suggests that because of their mandate the port authority has no choice but to accede to Raven’s wishes as written in their proposal once it is approved by the appropriate federal and provincial regulatory bodies.
There is a substantial body of opinion which believes that Port Alberni becoming a “coal port” is a retrograde step for the community and that there are substantial negative economic, environmental and safety issues that will affect the quality of life for those living in the area.
Today, corporate organizations, both private and public are supposed to have a sense of responsibility and an awareness of the impact that their activities will have on their respective communities. There are legal precedents to support this concept.
Although the port directors are appointed by outside interests, many are local residents and it is disconcerting to discover they have chosen to assume attitudes of disinterest as expressed by Mr. McCormick over the community’s legitimate concerns.
I am sure that Raven must have been delighted to read Mr. McCormick’s letter. ————— Guest opinions are a new feature in the Alberni Valley News. Guest opinions will run as space allows, and will be edited for brevity, clarity and legality.
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