Westward Independent

Port Side Reflections

by Westward Independent
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Going through my notes to write on City of Port Alberni Council Meetings, it astounded me as to how long I have been following the municipal gatherings and how educational it has been for me.

I come from Ottawa and have since for the past decades avoided politics as that was an everyday discussion in that city and quite frankly – it bored me. And then COVID appeared and as I woke up to the world around me, I became interested in how this city’s politics is being run. I also have more time presently as I was one of those fired healthcare workers three years ago.

I was rather naive at the start of attending council meetings and thought the mayor and councillors cared about their city but with further studies I noticed that most of municipal affairs is basically a money-run organization focussed on provincial (tax-payers) grants to effectively guide the city into a 15-Minute prison.

Several residents in 2023 asked the mayor, at City Council meetings, if Port Alberni was going to become a 15-Minute City or A Smart City with the answer being NO. Then the City of Port Alberni published their 2024 – 2028 Corporate (yes we are a corporation) Strategic Plan with, oh yes, A Complete Community.

In May of 2023, then head of the West Coast General Hospital, Dr. Lambiotte, spoke with Council on the healthcare crisis here in Port Alberni. “Beautify the town to entice workers to come,” he said. A resulting answer was the city is putting a quay-to-quay path that is sometimes on the waterfront through and around the mill which will help beautify the area with tree plantations going along the paths – all of which is funded by governmental grants – our tax dollars. Dr. Lambiotte spoke at two council meetings that I am aware of. The mayor acknowledged the healthcare crisis and would bring it to the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Convention.

At the October 16, 2023 Council Meeting, Mayor Sharie Minions, was commenting happily on meeting personally with the Minister of Health at the UBCM convention, hence, at question period, I asked her if she mentioned anything to the Minister about rehiring the fired healthcare workers of which has been a big contention at council meetings. After all, this would alleviate the crisis in many of the hospitals. After a pause, Mayor Minions told the crowd that “It was not on the agenda.”

Then Dr. Ingrid Pincott and Dr. Anna Kindy spoke to the Campbell River (CR) council about the healthcare crisis in that city and spoke about Bill 36 of which a story was published in the Westward Independent Issue No.10. Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl spoke that he wished other cities to group together for a larger voice in the fight to help the healthcare crisis.

Hence, I approached Port Alberni Council with information on Bill 36 and a link to the CR delegation so that our council could perhaps join in the fight to help the critical care in hospitals that is affecting everyone. As Dr. Kindy said “It is not a good time to be sick.”

Two weeks later, I asked all council members if they watched the 30-minute podcast. All with disinterested faces acknowledged they did NOT watch the show and were not communicating with CR Mayor. Hence, the hospital crisis will certainly continue further with little support from this council.

Activity at City Council meetings in March of 2024 was up in attendance with the broadcast of a 16.8%increase in this year’s city taxes. One resident commented on how the taxpayers will agree with the increase once it is reduced and voila, after reconfigurating some figures, it was reduced to 12.48%. The next council meeting held a few people with little mention about the 12.48% increase.

At the last council meeting, I brought information about the new documentary “Climate The Movie.” On my allotted question period, I asked if they would watch the documentary. The mayor said, “Oh, I believe we can watch this documentary,” with councillor Charles Mealey agreeing. I await the response at the next meeting.

I feel my efforts are not wasted and my time put in matters as I know that council meetings are aired on YouTube thus the world can view how council sits with decisions and about how the UN could be silently encroaching through our governmental systems to overpower our freedoms.

By Charlaine Lacroix, Port Alberni

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