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City officially opens waterfront

Dignitaries recognize contributions into 17-million worth of projects
City officially opens waterfront

by Laura Walz   VIDEO    – A fierce southeast squall produced high winds and torrents of rain for the grand opening of the City of Powell River’s waterfront on Friday morning, October 28. Guests huddled under tents erected on the Westview pier, while dignitaries braved the elements in the open-sided Spirit Square at the end of the wharf.

The grand opening marked completion of projects at the Wharf at Westview, Spirit Square and north and south boat harbours. Approximately $17 million was contributed by all funders: the federal government through Western Economic Diversification Canada and the West Coast Community Adjustment Program; the provincial government through the Spirit Square program; Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET); and the Union of BC Municipalities through the Community Tourism program. Additional contributors included the city, BC Ferry Services Inc., Small Craft Harbours, Community Futures Powell River and Powell River Regional Economic Development Society.

Tla’Amin (Sliammon) First Nation Elder Eugene Louie was the master of ceremonies for the event, Tla’Amin Elder Dr. Elsie Paul gave a traditional prayer and blessing and Drew Blaney led a group of singers from Klahoose First Nation in Chief Dan George’s Prayer Song, which is the Coast Salish anthem. Councillor Debbie Dee sang O Canada in three languages, English, French and Tla’Amin.

Tla’Amin Chief Clint Williams welcomed the approximately 100 people who attended. He said that originally Tla’Amin was going to have a long house structure with a canoe in it that would have been a bench for people to sit on, but the project fell through. “Maybe we’ll get there someday when the CEAP [Canadian Economic Action Plan] sets that up,” he said.

MP John Weston, who represents West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country, credited community leaders for working together to get projects done. “Again and again we’ve seen this scene unfold, where your local leaders have worked so closely with people in Ottawa, staff have collaborated with my staff and we’ve brought in an extraordinary amount of investment at a time when the world was in a recession,” he said.

Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development, said the Spirit Square program was designed to create spaces where communities can celebrate and “show true civic pride and spirit.” She said she was glad to see the structure there because “it does absolutely epitomize exactly what the program was designed to do.”

Arlette Raaen, a director on the ICET board, pointed out that the organization, a major funder of the south harbour expansion and Wharf at Westview, has supported over 80 regional initiatives, which create employment and economic diversification. “ICET delivers to communities at the local level,” she said. “Since 2007, over $46 million in ICET funds have been committed to projects throughout the region, building a total value of $237 million and the creation of over 1,900 jobs.”

Mayor Stewart Alsgard recognized all the people who had worked over the years to make waterfront development a reality, including Pam Krompocker, Community Futures Powell River general manager and a member of the Westview waterfront project committee. Councillor Chris McNaughton, chair of the committee, also recognized committee members, staff and contractors who worked on the projects, as well as the funders.

The event featured the raising of flags by cadets and members of the RCMP, a ribbon cutting, plaque unveiling, entertainment by Ceilish Trad Band and cake.