Port Alice has been through it’s fair share of challenging events, with the mill closing, and then the logging strike and then COVID. But the small village is still smiling and still growing.
The Gazette spoke with Mayor Kevin Cameron about his time in office, and what he’s looking forward to for this year.
Looking back on 2020, what sticks out to you overall?
As we know it hasn’t been a great year with COVID. It’s the lack of personal interaction that bothers me to the largest degree. I’m kind of an extrovert and I like to talk to people and that’s been stripped away from us a little bit at a time. And it’s progressed now to where we’re all masked up. It feels almost like a surreal world. But we need to be doing these things to get by for everybody’s welfare.
What do you and the village have planned for 2021?
We’re going to put as much work into tourism as we can. But, realizing that if we open at all for the tourism season it’s probably going to be a soft opening because I see this COVID thing running a bit longer. If we’re finished this by November I think we’re going to be lucky.
We are trying to invest in outdoor activities, so we can encourage things to be done safely. We’re working on our walking paths, and we’re going to put some dollars behind that and a couple other outside venues, like Walk On Island — a unique place at the end of our sea walk that you can only get to on low tides — that we have. We’ve had some talk about doing some retrofits at Lions Park if we get some grant monies.
We’re going to be outside, we’re not going to be in these huge groups that we’ve been in before.
We’re putting some money behind some kayak driven initiatives too. We’re going to establish a facility where kayaks can be launched, and a little map of where you can go. Here’s a sport where you and whoever you’re going with can social distance, and enjoy nature. The whales might even be here at that time. Certainly the sea otters. There are a lot of outdoor activities we can be thankful for.
Looking back over your years in office is there anything you’d do differently?
No, I really can’t say that. I don’t think us as a council have too many shortfalls. I’m kind of proud, everyone on our team, we all get along and talk and everyone seems to work hard. I’m thinking this isn’t working out too bad.
What are some achievements you’re proud of?
We’ve affected some attitudinal changes of what we’ve got going on in the village. People seem to be very content, and they are supportive of the initiatives we’ve taken.
One thing is finally being able to deal with the mill once and for all. It was going no place, and it’s just nice to have it heading in a different direction. We certainly miss the employment and the opportunities that created, that was huge for us, but at least we have that group in there cleaning up the facility.
And as that goes down the road we’ll probably have something else there in a few short years.
What does it mean to you to be a North Island politician?
I have a great pride in this community, I’ve lived up here most of my life. I really like Port Alice. It’s changed over the years, but I’m really proud of our little community. We stand together, because its a small knit community, there’s not a lot of people here, so we seem to stand together quite well. If you need something you just know everybody. That’s a nice feeling.
It seems like there’s a steady trickle of people moving there. Have you had an increase in population?
Yes, yeah we have. With the Lions Club we were able to hand out some Christmas gifts to the kids, and we were just looking at the numbers. Holy cow, we’ve got 96 kids! That’s more than before, and I value that. That’s a sign of a healthy community. Ninety-six kids, that’s great and thanks to all those mothers out there that are having babies.
What do you think contributes to people moving there?
I believe the atmosphere. I was talking to a couple today from a few feet away, and they were going we just love this place, it’s just very scenic. Yeah, it is very scenic.