Mayor's Address to Port Alberni

Mayor's Address to Port Alberni

Port Alberni, 

Before I begin I’d like to recognize and appreciate that we are meeting on the unceded territories of Hupacasath and Tseshaht First Nations.

On behalf of Council for the City of Port Alberni we felt it was important to reach out to each of you today. We are going through unprecedented times, and right now I know it feels like the situation, and the world, is changing a great deal each day.

Yesterday we closed our doors to the public at all City facilities. We want to assure you, that all essential services provided by the City of Port Alberni will continue to be provided. It is in an effort to ensure long-term, uninterrupted service delivery, that we chose to take measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading among the City’s workplaces.   

But while the doors may be closed at City facilities, we will continue to serve our citizens. The City can be reached by telephone, email or through our many online services. At this time, garbage pick-up continues on schedule, high-quality water and sewer services continue, our parks, trails and other open spaces are available for recreation, our fire department will, as they always do, respond quickly to emergencies, and our Engineering and Planning departments will continue to work with homeowners and developers to support development in the City. We have also been assured by the federal government that supply chains of food and other essentials will continue uninterrupted. So we ask all members of our community to please be respectful and only purchase what you need.

At this point in time, we plan to continue regular meetings of Council. While those meetings must remain open to the public, we strongly encourage members of the public to view meetings electronically, and we encourage you to submit questions or comments via email to our City Clerk.

You’ve likely noticed that Council is not here with me today. While I would love to have each of our councilors standing with me for this address, as a group we felt it was important to model the behavior we’re asking our residents to adopt. This means social distancing, avoiding gathering in groups, and staying home as much as possible.

While we understand the concern and worry happening around us right now. I want you to know that we’re in this together. As your local leaders, we are prepared to do all we can to get through this difficult time.

Council and staff are already working with all levels of government to build a plan to keep our community strong. We know that for the people and businesses of Port Alberni, the COVID-19 financial challenges are compounded by the impacts of the recently resolved labor dispute.

I know many of our local businesses have already had to temporarily close their doors because of government orders around social distancing. As a business owner myself who had to make that difficult phone call to my employees last night as well, I want you to know how much I empathize with the challenges you’re going through right now and the very hard decisions you’re having to make. It is a TOP priority for this Council, to make sure that businesses are able to get through this and open their doors again at the end of it. We are already in conversations with stakeholders and partners to discuss our needs and opportunities.

And we know that these concerns extend far beyond the business community. To the parents wondering if their children will return to school this year, the seniors struggling within the confines of their homes, and the members of our community living below the poverty line who may be concerned about resources, we want you to know you are at the forefront of our thoughts and we are representing your needs to higher levels of government every day.

I want to extend a personal thank you to our MP Gord Johns and MLA Scott Fraser for continually and proactively reaching out to look for ways to work together during this time.

If I could highlight one takeaway to this point in the COVID-19 landscape, it’s that the world, and this community, have shown a great ability to adapt and pull together. Our reality today is different than it was last week, and we know the situation will continue to evolve.

I’m so proud of how the people of this community have come together to support each other. From food drives for the vulnerable to neighbors adopting check-in systems to grocery stores opening early for seniors.

Port Alberni, your compassion and strength continue to impress me. We will get through this, as we have with so many challenging times before. I ask that in the coming weeks and months we continue to reach out to our neighbors, we do our best to remember that we’re all dealing with unwelcome changes and patience will be key, and we try our best to enjoy these beautiful days with our families.

Thank you,

Mayor Sharie Minions

To watch the speech be delivered live, click here