McNeill waterfront loses character

Dear editor,

A founding pioneer of Port McNeill planted and tended a special rose garden on the waterfront.  It has been protected and cared for over several decades but needed a little TLC to re-establish its vigour.  Without public input, the public works crew removed the garden.

Our local Communities in Bloom committee understands the important heritage, cultural and aesthetic value of the rose garden.  On Thursday, April 7, I presented an offer to the Town of Port McNeill.  Our Communities in Bloom committee volunteered to take on the responsibility of maintaining the rose garden.  I was told that the town had some plans for the garden and I would receive a call.  That call was never received.  Instead, the very next day, Friday, April 8, the garden along with the roses was removed.

Our community has an important relationship with our forest industry.  We were established and are here because of the forest industry.  In order to know and appreciate who we are, we need to know how we got here.  Who were those people who brought their lives, families and dreams to Port McNeill?  We need to respect and honour the very real contributions they made to creating and improving the quality of life in this new community.

Last year, the shelter trees, along the walkway to the harbour, were removed.  Pioneer volunteers planted those trees to provide shelter.  The trees did that and more.  They provided shelter from wind and rain for both people and birds.  They provided a perch for eagles right in the heart of our community.  The blossoms gave seasonal pleasure.  Many wedding photos were taken under the branches of those trees.  Removal of the trees was advantageous to the businesses across the street; many of the rest of us realized a true loss.

Now, we have lost our rose garden.  Who made these decisions?  Why did they make these decisions?  What else are we going to lose?  Their decisions are leaving us with a generic waterfront.  Where is Port McNeill’s unique character, crafted by our pioneers?

Our pioneers worked hard to turn their camp into our town.  They valued our stunningly beautiful location and recognized our potential to become an equally beautiful town.  Do we want to lose their vision?   We risk going back to looking like a camp.  Volunteers are willing to continue the work of our pioneers.

Beautification brings permanency.  The residents of Port McNeill have asked for beautification, not for sterilization.

Sharon Barratt, Chair

Port McNeill Communities in Bloom Society