Furney offers help

Port McNeill’s Mayor Gerry Furney extends the hand of friendship to those affected by the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.

Port McNeill’s Mayor Gerry Furney drew praise this week after extending the hand of friendship to those affected by the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster.

“The Lac-Mégantic disaster hit me very hard when I read all the news stories,” said Furney in a statement.

“I felt it needed more than a letter of condolences. Our council was unanimous in its support.”

The council agreed to send a dollar for each citizen “to help… in meeting the many challenges that lie ahead,” as explained in a letter to Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche of Lac-Mégantic.

While the amount itself is modest in the grand scheme, the mayor has sent a copy of the letter to all municipal leaders across Canada with the hope that Canadians can unite to echo the town’s gesture.

“(The letter) has been sent to all Canadian local and regional governments in the Confederation we call Canada,” he explained.

Other North Island communities have  already joined Furney, with Alert Bay and  Port Alice matching Port McNeill’s pledge of a dollar per citizen in each town.

Port Hardy Council, currently on a reduced summer schedule, is expected to do the same once the mayor and councillors reconvene.

Furney’s action drew widespread attention, including garnering praise in last week’s Vancouver Sun.

Perhaps more importantly for the cause, the article helped spread word of the gesture and, proponents would hope, will encourage other municipalities to follow the North Island’s lead in supporting those affected by the disaster.