Port looks for ways to help laid-off loggers

  • Jan. 14, 2009 6:00 p.m.

Building new walking trails, fixing up the mud bog area, constructing new concession stands in the community park and building a BMX track – these are some of the ideas Port Clements council is hoping could create new jobs for the village’s unemployed workers. Council members held a brainstorming session Monday night (Jan. 12) to come up with ways to address the future of the community. Port was hard hit by Western Forest Products’ announcement last week that it is curtailing its operations on the Charlottes indefinitely as well as some places on Vancouver Island due to extremely poor market conditions. Some loggers have been out of work since August, others since the end of October, council members said. Mayor Cory Delves said the village is already going ahead with a wharf decking project which will provide some employment. The village is applying for grants to build concession stands, cover the tennis courts, and build an all-islands bike path.”Those are all things that are beneficial to our community and all things that could help people through this tough time,” said Mr. Delves. Administrator Heather Nelson-Smith told council members that the village has about $78,000 available in its general reserve funds, although some of this is restricted. Council members will be able to take a closer look at what money is available after the 2008 audit is complete, she said. Mr. Delves said he wanted to make it clear to the community that he does not plan to resign right away, although he is among those laid off and has said that he will be leaving the community before his term ends in 2011. “I am not resigning,” he said. “Yes, it is true I am out of work as of the end of the month but I would really like to see some focus on other issues.” Mr. Delves said he was somewhat surprised by the media attention to his situation. Several newspapers have written about the mayor’s layoff and he was interviewed on CBC on Monday morning. During that interview, he dedicated a Stan Rogers song called “The Idiot” to longtime Port resident Aaron Decock, who recently moved to Tumbler Ridge for work. Mr. Delves said he was not calling Mr. Decock an idiot, he was praising his decision. “He had to make a difficult choice of staying home or leaving to work elsewhere,” he explained. The lyrics to “The Idiot” tell the story of a man who leaves his home in the east and goes to work in the west: “Well, I could have stayed to take the dole, but I’m not one of those/ I take nothing free, and that makes me, an idiot, I suppose.”