By John Twigg
As the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association (CNA) goes through its fifth year (or so) of existence, its activities are becoming more varied, visible and valuable.
The CNA began as an ad hoc collection of community activists and business leaders and focused on issues like crosswalks, crime, graffiti and improving the Myrt Thompson Trail as well as pushing the concept of mounting a float plane on a pedestal as a tourist attraction.
Initially the group was co-chaired by Campbellton business operators Jim de Hart (Destiny River Adventures) and Brian Shaw (Mackie Research) but de Hart had to depart for business reasons and when the CNA formally incorporated as a not-for-profit society, Shaw became the sole chair and the other executive members became a variety of business people, residents and policy activists, and soon the CNA’s issues and activities expanded greatly too.
One of its first and perhaps most important improvements was a major clampdown on graffiti and street crimes, which not many people have noticed but which has lasted thanks to improved communications between the CNA and the local RCMP.
Another early gain was improved crosswalks and some new sidewalks, better traffic controls with a new set of lights at 14th and Petersen, and over the last two years, at the CNA’s behest, several dozen new streetlights are being installed by the City and B.C. Hydro to replace or augment the antiquated ones in what is arguably the oldest neighbourhood in the city (apart from the First Nations settlements, of course).
While some progress has been made on the Myrt Thompson Trail improvements concept, thanks to a major land use and planning study done jointly by and for the city and CNA, the full implementation of a new and improved public access strategy has been delayed (it lacks adequate parking) and is awaiting what the Wei Wai Kum First Nation may or may not do with their large parcel of vacant land adjacent to the shoreline trail (the trail is under city control and CRIB’s property development plan will depend on the supply of city services, which gives the City some input into the design).
Probably the most visible sign of changes in Campbellton has been the CNA’s installation in the last two years of about 60 artistic banners on streetlight poles along the highways that run through Campbellton, all of which involve First Nations images of salmon and some of which were designed by Curtis Wilson, currently also acting chief of CRIB. Funding for the banners was provided by the City.
This year, with the aid of a Beautification Grant from the City, the CNA was able to rejuvenate about 40 flower planter boxes along the Old Island Highway (Campbellton’s main commercial street) and plant them with colorful petunias and other attractive flowers, which are being kept watered mainly by CNA volunteers as well as by some of the businesses nearby. (The planters were about the only legacy from the now-defunct Campbellton Business Association.)
Another very important, though less visible, achievement of the CNA was the creation two years ago of the Campbellton Community Garden, in which the city leased a large plot of parks land at 1751, 15th Ave. to the CNA and authorized the installation of about 40 rentable garden plots in what was formerly a little-used playground. An old swing and other playground equipment was removed and replaced with new equipment in a better fenced-off corner.
Campbell River Mirror