Alice in Action

Port Alice citizens gathered to collaborate on ideas for the future of the village

  • Feb. 3, 2016 4:00 p.m.

Twenty-three Port Alice citizens gathered at the Sea View Activity Centre on Sunday, Jan. 17, to collaborate on

ideas for the future of the village, which has seen economic difficulty since the March 2015 Neucel Specialty

Cellulose mill layoffs. The meeting, named Alice in Action, was a brainstorming session for locals to share

ideas, aspirations, knowledge and experience, organized by residents Pauline Steele, Susan Mohler and Bev

Steffler. Steele, who in October wrote an open letter to Port Alice residents to encourage shopping locally,

retired to Port Alice six-and-a-half years ago. “This place ticked all the boxes,” she said. “I love it here, I’m not

going anywhere. I want to see this place survive. It might not go back to the way it used to be, but I’d like to

keep what we’ve got.”Alice in Action attendees ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-seventies, and included

lifelong residents, recently retired newcomers, and a few entrepreneurs.The key topic of discussion was the

need to promote Port Alice’s strengths to tourists and new residents, which were identified as the natural

beauty of the inlet and surrounding mountains; a mild climate; the sheltered waters of Neroutsos Inlet for sailing

and kayaking; the affordability of housing; the peace and quiet; the absence of significant crime; ocean and

logging road access to the West Coast; nearby lakes; and the accessibility of wilderness and wildlife. Rona-Lee

Syme retired to Port Alice with her husband two years ago. “We chose to come here for retirement,” she said.

“This fit the bill. It’s affordable, you can live by the ocean, and it’s got so much beauty here. It’s a real little gold

mine. ”Village Councillor Dave Stewart, a 35-year resident said, “I don’t care if I’m the last person in town I’m

going to keep forging ahead to get new people here and keep people here. I’m here to do whatever I can do to

help.” Stewart owns two Port Alice properties and has a potential recreation idea to attract surfers to the

community. Stewart’s wife Natalie, a lifelong resident, said, “I’ve seen what Port Alice can be. We’re trying to

entice people and families to move to this community. People working in camp jobs, families, and for the single

moms, it’s a perfect place to raise kids. Just how much easier it is here, everyone really comes together, we

have inexpensive sports, and we do everything we can to make it as easy as possible for young families.”Other

topics and ideas included: • a lack of accommodation and food servicesdevelopment of B&Bs, or an informal

network of Air B&B type accommodations• encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in Port Aliceattracting tourists•

attracting retirees• welcoming government-sponsored refugees• grooming and promoting the dike hiking

trailsnaming and promoting the Port Alice road as an attraction for motorcyclistsOrganizers of Alice in Action

are planning follow-up meetings, which they hope will lead to more community involvement and

development. Current actions include new promotional web sites and a citizen-organized business

development workshop on Jan. 30. Steele created the web site vancouverislandhiddengem.com to help market

Port Alice and local real estate to retirees. Mohler is in progress creating portalicelife.ca, to promote life, events,

arts, culture, and business in Port Alice. For more information contact: Pauline Steele at 250-284-6252 or

Susan Mohler at 250-209-2499.

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