PORT McNEILL—Hoping to make a visionary and family friendly play area a centerpiece of the local waterfront, representatives of the Port McNeill Rotary Club requested the use a plot of land and the support of council during last week’s council meeting.
“I see this was an area for people to sit with their kids, for play, for families to picnic and handicap accessible for all people to visit the waterfront,” said Joanne Lacasse, president of Port McNeill Rotary.
“If this is approved, we will keep council apprised the entire way. We are not looking for money; this is a funding project we’ll do on our own.”
Lacasse has been in contact with B.C. artist/builder Eric Scragg, whose structures of bentwood and other natural materials have been erected at Whistler Village and in Japan. She shared with council Scragg’s website and a current plan he has drafted for placement in the Kootenay region as an example of the type of structure that might be expected to be built at the waterfront.
“He’s been to Port McNeill and seen the waterfront,” Lacasse said of Scragg, who has built log homes, tree houses and sprawling play structures that flow along the lines of the bentwood. “He’s gotten wood from the Port Hardy area to do some of his projects, so he’s familiar with the area.”
Lacasse said Rotary hoped such a structure on the waterfront would be just the first phase in an ongoing project, which could come to include benches, picnic tables and perhaps a tidal pool.
Mayor Gerry Furney said his primary concern was the potential cost of the project, noting a $4,200 price tag for one handmade picnic table.
“If that’s a signal of what the rest of it is going to cost in proportional amounts, I wonder whether we, the Rotary, the Town, or anybody else here can afford that level. That seems like an extremely high price.”
Lacasse said Rotary was prepared to work with the builder to customize an affordable installation, and that some grant money might be available to it.
“We think you’re getting more than a picnic table,” she said. “We’re looking at it more as a piece of art, a focal point. But, no, it’s not cheap.”
No decision was made at the meeting. Councillors thanked Lacasse and the rest of her delegation for the presentation.
Emergency post filled
Council filled its Emergency Program Coordinator position, which had been vacant more than three months, by approving the nomination of Keith Balcke for the post.
Balcke will represent Port McNeill in the regionwide emergency program system. He succeeds Chuck Lok, who held both the Port McNeill and regionwide Emergency Program Coordinator posts before stepping down last fall.
“He has been a member of the Hyde Creek Fire Department and the Port McNeill Fire Department until 2007, and recently rejoined,” said Coun. Gaby Wickstrom. “He also has some rescue training through Orca Sand and Grave, he’s a longtime member of the community, he has the time and has the desire. I’d like to put his name forward.”
Balcke will work with Lok, and will require additional training to reach full qualification for the emergency coordinator position.
“I think there’s quite a bit of training involved,” Coun. Grant Anderson said. “After talking to Chuck, it could be up to $5,000 out of our pocket, eventually, to get him up to the speed. But that would be over a certain amount of time.”
Council agreed unanimously to renew an emergency management agreement encompassing five municipalities and eight First Nations bands on the North Island.
The agreement, formed in 2006, commits the municipalities and bands to mutual aid in the event of an emergency. The original five-year agreement expired Dec. 31, 2011. The new agreement will run through Dec. 2016.