With the next municipal election coming up in October, Alert Bay mayor Dennis Buchanan is ready to put his name out there as one that will be on the ballot.
Buchanan said he decided to run again because “we have yet to complete the town square repairs and we have yet to complete the expansion on our campground, so I’d like to see those through.”
He confirmed those are two big projects that mayor and council had been working on over the previous four-year term, adding he’s also enjoyed “representing the municipality at the regional district meetings, and I have a really good working relationship with [‘Namgis First Nation] Chief Don Svanvik and Chief Andrew Speck from the Whe-La-La-U Area Council.”
It hasn’t been the easiest four-year term, Buchanan admitted, and that was primarily due to COVID-19 wreaking havoc all over the world. Buchanan himself actually tested positive for COVID-19 early on during the pandemic, and the whole situation was “stressful,” he said.
“We had to restrict travel on the ferry here because we had a big outbreak,” Buchanan stated. “We didn’t want people travelling up to Port McNeill and Port Hardy and spreading covid in those communities. We wanted to keep anybody that was asymptomatic from travelling.”
As for the nearly eight month long logging strike in 2019-2020, Buchanan noted Alert Bay definitely felt some impact from it, and as for the fishing industry, he’s feeling optimistic about the recent positive returns coming in this season.
“Certainly we are hoping that the fish are going to keep coming back, especially now that the sea otters have moved back into this area – they eat the sea urchins which eat the bull kelp, and if the bull kelp has a return, then that means there’s more hiding spots for the young fry, which means better returns for the fish.”
All told, Buchanan feels he and his councillors were effective in achieving the goals they had set over the four-year term.
“I feel we had a pretty good team,” he confirmed. “That’s not to say there wasn’t some disagreements occasionally, not everybody agrees with all the decisions that are being made, but the team was effective and that includes my office staff as well, who were all exceptional.”
One of the more important issues that Cormorant Island has dealing with lately is the overnight service reductions at its health centre. For just about the entire month of August now, the health centre has had no overnight emergency services available due to staffing shortages.
Buchanan said this has been a big concern for residents and visitors to the island, and he feels there are numerous factors that are causing the problem, such as a lack of housing and a shortage of doctors and nurses Canada-wide.
“We can try and recruit doctors and nurses here,” he said, “and we’re having a public meeting with VIHA on Aug. 25 to discuss the health-care issues here on the island.”
Buchanan has served previously as a councillor for the Corporation of Alert Bay, and if elected again it will be his second term as mayor.