Port Edward council chambers were full to the brim over a public dispute surrounding a potential decision to rezone the property near the Kinnikinnick Campground and RV Park from residential to commercial use. (Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)

COCULLO: What do you want Port Ed?

The District of Port Edward’s council meeting turned into the unwelcoming committee last Tuesday night as they turned down a request to rezone land by the campground for commercial use.

The community came out in numbers (a dozen is a pretty high turn out for such a small town) to oppose the idea and council listened to their concerns.

That’s fine. Community and council know best.

But what is disheartening is hearing councillors, elected to represent everyone, publicly talk about a resident, or a soon-to-be permanent resident, like an unwanted outsider. That was the tone of the meeting as councillors admitted to hardly knowing the individual, criticized his performance on other business ventures and stated the current one was badly planned.

That is not very welcoming.

READ MORE: Port Ed council chambers full over campground dispute

The community was also full of no-with-no alternatives. One resident did pipe up at the end stating they did want the property owner in town but they were just not in favour of the project.

So what do you want Port Edward?

Now is the time for residents and business owners to get together and have some productive conversations about the future of the district rather than harshly shooting down the ideas of someone who is actually trying.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority is expecting to add new jobs that will bring in thousands of people to the city, and Redesign Rupert will hopefully bring in more tourism and additional non-port related residents.

Port Edward has a real opportunity here to do some redeveloping of their own. A Redesign Port Edward — but with a catchier alliterated name.

Luckily, they have a new CAO who appears to be on the ball and recently informed council of staff plans to explore commercial development opportunities for several plots of land the district owns with input from key stakeholders.

But it is also a good opportunity to go beyond the fancy stakeholders and come together as a community to brainstorm and discuss ideas that will work for everyone rather than hearing a big fat no in your face.

It will be a much more welcoming (and prosperous) place that way.

READ MORE COCULLO: Put yourself in their seat driving on Hwy 16

Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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