BILL McQUARRIE PHOTO Clayton Harder with his parents Kathy and Leon at the rotary trail.

North Island Secondary School graduate spearheads community project

Fresh water now available on Rotary Trail.

Clayton Harder, a Port McNeill resident and first year university student at Vancouver Island University, unveiled his community engagement project over the Thanksgiving weekend. As part of his Coastal Community Credit Union scholarship, Harder designed, built, and installed new signage at the head of Port McNeill’s Rotary Trail.

What is unique about this project is the sign’s built-in water station. The tap, conveniently placed within the waterfall picture, will give those using the trail an opportunity to fill their bottles as well as those for their four-legged friends joining them on this pet friendly trail.

Apart from the informational signage about our rainforests, the North Island Trail map and the availability of free water, there’s a QR Code tucked away on the lower right panel. Visitors who scan the code with their phone, will get an instant link to the Vancouver Island North Tourism website, where other trails and local events are listed.

The project got underway when the Coastal Community Credit Union provided Harder with $1,000 in seed money for this innovative community venture along with a university scholarship valued at $2,500. The Port McNeill Rotary Club joined in and contributed an additional $1,500 towards the project along with a $1,000 scholarship for Harder.

The Town of Port McNeill saw the project as a value to the community and donated all of the labour and services needed to access and connect it to the town’s water system.

During the unveiling, Port McNeill Mayor Gaby Wickstrom noted the project began five months ago when Harder first approached her with the idea. Less than half a year later, the project is completed and Wickstrom, on behalf of all residents, was able to congratulate Harder on a job well done, adding: “It’s always wonderful to see our young people supported and engaged in the wellbeing of our communities. Fantastic job!”

In an interview following the unveiling, Harder explained he’d be using the scholarship funds to help pay for his undergraduate degree. Asked what his plans were after graduation, he explained, “After my four year bachelor’s degree, I’ll move on to get my degree in education.”

After that, Harder’s plans include returning to Port McNeill to teach.

Rick Restell, a past president of the local rotary club, commented on Harder’s plans for returning to Port McNeill, saying: “He’s setting an example for others to follow. Not only did he work hard at completing this project, but his desire to return after university and teach here, shows by example that our young people can stay and can have a future in Port McNeill.”

– Bill McQuarrie article

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