To Minister Blair Lekstrom on Improved Highway access to Port Alberni

I sent this letter in response to a letter sent to the Minister by the Port Alberni Port Authority on the Horne Lake highway connector plans:

July 15, 2012

Honourable Blair Lekstrom
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
PO Box 9055 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2

Dear Minister Lekstrom:

Re: Improved highway access to Port Alberni

On June 19, 2012 you received a letter from the Port Alberni Port Authority about plans for a new connector highway into Port Alberni.

I would like to bring to your attention the letter I sent on the same day (included below) to the Port Authority and representatives on the Transportation Committee including the City of Port Alberni and Alberni Valley Regional District asking that they provide the public with an opportunity to see, comment on and judge these plans well before they are submitted to your Ministry for action or approval. This is consistent with recommendations made to your Ministry in the past on this issue in the NDLea “Horne Lake Study” of 2005. I asked that they provide this information before July 1st. Unfortunately, while I have had some discussions with City of Port Alberni Councillors, the Mayor and members of the Committee, no further information has been released to the public by the Port Authority or Committee and thus my basic concerns have not been addressed.

I have asked for this information because these plans, according to media reports, represent one of the most costly infrastructure projects (as high as $100 Million) ever conceived for our Regional District and yet the public has not been allowed to scrutinize the plan in any way before the request for its consideration and urgent action was sent to your Ministry. As a daily user of Highway 4 and resident of Port Alberni I am fully aware of the challenges and opportunities with transportation in this area. However, from past studies (NDLea 2005, ACRD 2007), and the limited amount of information I’ve received about this new proposal, I have great reservations about the cost of the current plan and it’s ability to the truck traffic on Highway 4 or the City of Port Alberni, or be a positive development for the region as an Asia-Pacific Gateway.

I believe many residents of the ACRD would consider investments in the Island (E&N) Railway, “Bamfield Road”, “Comox Lake Road”, and other projects to be more economical and better serve the ACRD especially with major projects such as the Raven Underground Coal Project coming to a head. Notably, the public and business communities have already registered their support for increase rail transport in the Alberni Valley by signing the “No Rail? No Coal!” petition (650 signatures) and through surveys done by the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and Alberni Environmental Coalition.

These concerns must be included in the deliberations of the Committee and all options must be considered publicly.

I respectfully ask the Ministry, in conjunction with the Honourable Federal Ministers of Transport,, Infrastructure and Communities and Asia-Pacific Gateway Denis Lebel and Ed Fast to compel the Port Authority or other members of the Committee as soon as possible to:
a) make the proceedings including past agenda and minutes of this committee public
b) release any documents created by the committee or its members detailing this “Improved Highway Access” plan
c) schedule as soon as possible open houses for the public to scrutinize the plan and provide feedback

I also ask your Ministry to release to the public any documents received from the Port Alberni Port Authority Regional Transportation Committee or representatives thereof relating to the cost, planning, or other work completed by this committee.

While I personally would like to see future transportation links made by rail (as demonstrated at http://www.vifreightbyrail.ca) my concern here is general economic, accountability, transparency, and good governance principles.

If you have any questions or wish to contact me further you can do so at this email address or at 250-723-0889.

Sincerely,

Chris Alemany
3854 6th Ave.
Port Alberni, BC
V9Y4M2
Canada
http://www.vifreightbyrail.ca

cc: Premier Christy Clark
Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities
Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of Asia-Pacific Gateway
Honourable Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation
Honourable Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development
Honourable Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture
Scott Fraser, MLA, Alberni-Pacific Rim
James Lunney, MP, Nanaimo-Alberni
Harry Bains, MLA, Opposition Transportation Critic
Olivia Chow, MP, Opposition Transportation Critic
Jasbir Sandhu, MP, Opposition Asia-Pacific Critic
John Douglas, Mayor, City of Port Alberni
Glen Wong, Chair, Alberni Valley Regional District
Cindy Stern, CEO, Tseshaht First Nation
Rob Duncan, CEO, Hupacasath First Nation
Mike Carter, Executive Director, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce
Grant Main, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
Kirsten Pedersen, District Manager/Executive Director, MOTI Vancouver Island Region

—–Original Message—–
From: Christopher Alemany [mailto:chrisale@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 10:25 AM
To: Mayor Port Alberni; Brad Madelung; ACRD Chair; cindysolda@me.com
Cc: Editor Times; Susan Quinn; Westerly News; Minister TRAN:EX
Transportation; Ken Watson; Russell Dyson
Subject: Alberni Regional Transportation Committee Information

Dear Mayor Douglas, Mr Madelung and ACRD Chairpersons,

I am very concerned about the truck route proposals made by the Alberni
“Regional Transportation Committee”, of which your staff are reportedly
representatives. I am even more concerned that proposals have submitted to
the Ministry of Transportation without any public information or
consultation whatsoever.

As elected representatives and public servants I believe that you have a
moral and legislated responsibility to provide this information to the
public.

I request that you provide to me, or post online or in hardcopy at your
offices, any and all documents created or discussed by the Regional
Transportation Committee or submitted to the Ministry of Transportation. I
request that you have your staff produce these documents before July 1st.

If you have any questions please contact me by this email anytime or by
phone after 5PM or on weekends at 250-723-0889.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter,

Sincerely,

Chris Alemany

Chris Alemany
3854 6th Ave.
Port Alberni, BC
V9Y4M2
http://www.norailnocoal.ca

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