The 10th Avenue Crossing

Here’s an issue that never seems to go away.

For those who are new to town, the north end of 10th Avenue dead ends at the top of the ravine, or canyon of Roger Creek. One of the reasons there is a traffic bottleneck on Gertrude is because a bridge across the Roger Creek Canyon has never been built. It would take a lot of congestion away from Gertrude Street. And access to the Pacific Rim Shopping Centre, Walmart, and Canadian Tire from South Port would be much faster. It seems like a no brainer.

And a fellow called to say just that, this afternoon. “Why hasn’t it been built?”, he asked.

Well it’s easy to say, there’s no money or political will. But that isn’t a very satisfactory answer. There’s more to it.

First, it would be a very big bridge. From the top of the canyon on one side, to the top of the canyon on the other side is around 250m. It is a longer crossing than the Highway 4 bridge across the Sproat River. So that’s a lot of money to invest. There is no way the City of Port Alberni could pay for it without help from more senior levels of government. That may be more likely now as we have an MLA, Josie Osborne, who is a Minister in the BC Government.

But there are other things to consider, Roger Creek itself. It is a salmon-bearing stream. In former times Coho runs were abundant in it. They are still there but much reduced in number despite numerous efforts to enhance the run. Construction of a very large bridge over a creek with a fragile salmon run could easily make the run even more fragile. It any landslide happened during construction it would end up in the creek immediately. It would also be very difficult to prevent silt and erosion from entering the creek during construction.

And now there’s the fact that The Scott Kenny Trail lies beneath any proposed orientation of the bridge. Construction would creak significant overhead hazards, forcing that part of the trail to close for however long the construction took.

Finally there is the issue of all those people in the neighbourhood at the north end of Tenth would be very unhappy to see their homes, homes that they may have bought because of the wooded ravine out their back door, become a major thoroughfare. I happen to know people who live at each end of the proposed crossing. Nobody likes to be told that it is for the greater good. So we sit…

Next entry Friday– Housing

Beyond the trees is Roger Creek Canyon

Sproat Falls-An Overlooked Tourist Attraction

The following article was published in Nov 1017 in the Alberni Valley News. So some of the information is not current in this year of Covid 19.

I think Sproat Falls is one of the most over-looked tourist attractions in the Alberni valley. Despite it being less than 100 meters from the Highway 4 Bridge over the Sproat River, the falls are scarcely even visible from it and there are no signs to indicate that it is there. A million people a year are reputed to travel this highway a year. Many of them are from out of province, out of country and out of continent. It’s a big trip for them. They have all heard about the salmon migration, and whether they are fishermen or not, they would love an opportunity to see the migration in action.

Sproat Falls is a place where at least 100,000 sockeye salmon pass every year with the majority passing between mid-June and mid-July. At that time the abundance of fish is impressive. It could be very easy for the travelling public to stop for a few minutes in their headlong dash to the Pacific Rim. The fish ladder there, the cliff and the old forest perched on and around it combine to make it quite scenic. And it’s hardly even a detour.

The area should be a park of some sort. In fact, it almost is. Part of the area is designated Park Use on the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District’s Official Community Plan (OCP) for the area and it is Crown Land.  But there are some hurdles, and a bit of leg work to actually make it so.

There are 5 properties involved. and possibly the Klehkoot Indian Reserve belonging to the Hupacasath. Of the five, only the two biggest properties are public lands, Seaton Park, and the pie-shaped property adjacent the Park. Seton Park belongs to the City of Port Alberni, God knows why. The other property is an isolated chunk of Crown Land. It shades Highway 4 with some nice old forest. Through both properties goes an old grade some call Brand Avenue. It starts at the end of Hector Road and ends just above the Highway 4 Bridge.

Adjacent to the Crown Land toward the bridge, are two small properties, one on each side of the old grade. They are jammed between the Sproat River and Highway 4. The one next to the highway is privately owned and has an old log cabin on it and is not likely part of what I’m proposing. The one next to the river is undeveloped and likely could never be developed because the setbacks for buildings required by the Regional District virtually eliminate any possibility for building on it. However useless it may seem, it is privately owned. Finally just before the bridge there is a smaller parcel of Island Timberlands property that also has little value for the same reason. Just past Faber Road on the right is a rough gravel road that leads down to Brand Ave. Brand Ave actually passes under the highway bridge. It would join the old Ash Main if it were not for the string of boulders across the road.

This road has been on the ACRD’s radar for a while because of the fact that is a popular spot for illegal dumping. Sproat Lake District Board Member, Penny Cote says that because Highways considers this Gazetted road, it is blocking the Regional District’s ambition to establish a vehicle-free corridor along the river, thus frustrating people’s ability to dump garbage along it. It is however blocked by several large boulders under the bridge.

So clearly, there is some legwork to be done. The owner of the private property needs to be contacted to see if could be sold to the Regional District and a price set. Another option could be through a covenant or some other creative arrangement.  Similarly, a negotiation has to take place with Island Timberlands.  The Regional District also needs to talk to both the city of Port Alberni and the Province. A plan needs to be drawn up for parking washroom facilities and perhaps a fence along the top of the cliff. This adds up to a fair bit of staff time.  And the cost to acquire the properties and to install the facilities may not be exactly modest.

It comes down to political will. Is the current or future Regional District board willing to make the effort. They have taken some steps along the way. It is in the Sproat Lake OCP. They have established a Parks Service Review Committee.  And they are exploring ways of acquiring and funding a Regional Park system. In 2015 they produced a Parks & Trails Strategic Plan where a framework for the acquisition and establishment for parks and trails was laid out. Buried at the end of Appendix A, the Public Wish List, these properties are mentioned. Clearly from a local’s perspective, this area is a very low priority. From the travelling public’s perspective it is completely unknown. That is why I say it is the most overlooked tourist attraction in the Alberni Valley.

Patti, my wife, says that people she had talks to would like to see some references about things I talks about.

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