The Johnston Road Charrette is a long-term project, says city councillor Sharie Minions.
Minions, the city’s liaison on the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, clarified some of the concerns regarding the charrette during the chamber’s first dinner meeting of 2017 in January.
The charrette for Johnston Road and the Northport commercial area was held over two days, from Oct. 22-23. The aim of the project was to bring together stakeholders and the city to generate a cohesive vision and coordinated approach for improvements to the area.
“It was a really positive weekend,” said Minions. “But I started reading negative comments about it.”
A lot of the negativity, said Minions, came from the fact that many people did not understand the context behind the charrette, and that it is a long-term guideline.
“We have a plan to follow,” said Minions. “We’re not just doing piece work here or there, it’s about having a guide to follow. I think people thought we were going to do all the things right now.”
She said that improvements to the street’s facade were most talked about. “The streetscape ended up being a big part of the discussion, even though that’s a long-term part of the plan.”
Minions said that council hasn’t had a chance to review the project yet.
“It’s important to have positive discussion around it, understand that these aren’t immediate plans.”
The biggest takeaway of the two-day long weekend, for her, was that Johnston Road does a great job of getting people through town: but is that all we want it to do?
There were arguments from either side: some wanted to bring more visitors to Port Alberni and Alberni businesses. Others protested that the road is a highway, and didn’t want congestion slowing down traffic.
“It’s going to involve a greater community conversation on what the purpose of Johnston Road is,” said Minions.
Her hope is to implement a strict timeline
“I want to see results from the plan,” she said. “I don’t want it to be something that sits on a shelf for a few years.”