Port’s new building hailed as way of the future

  • Apr. 6, 2009 1:00 p.m.

Port Clements’s brand-new $4.9-million multi-purpose building, already being hailed as the way of the future, had its official opening amid much fanfare on Saturday, Jeff King writes.More than 60 people gathered to have a look at the facility, located on school property between Park St. and Cedar Ave. and to hear speeches during the official opening ceremony.Port Clements mayor Cory Delves noted that the building, which combines a school, playschool, library and village offices under one roof, had required much work from many people over many years, and said “On behalf of the village, I thank the many people involved with the process.” He offered a brief history of the ups and downs of the project, which took the better part of 11 years and required a lot of planning and a lot of coordination. Mayor Delves praised the great commitment of the school district to maintain a school in Port. He also thanked Heather Nelson-Smith of the village and Ken Campbell of the school district for their energy and commitment. Mayor Delves praised the architects who met with every user group in the village before getting down to work, and were open to using local wood where possible. “I believe this is the only public building that has been built in recent times with framing material that comes from island producers,” the mayor said. School Board chair Wayne Wilson said it was a privilege for him to be part of the opening of a school on Haida Gwaii, as in many parts of the province, the news is of closing facilities. Mr. Wilson thanked Education Minister Shirley Bond for “having the foresight to see what it takes to keep a small community moving forward.” He also thanked the Gwaii Trust, and John Fictorie Construction. “It’s a beautiful building and very much for Port Clements to be proud of,” he said. Mr. Wilson praised the people of Port “for pushing hard to ensure there was a school in their community. We as a school district are very proud to be part of that,” he said, “if we all work together, just about everything is achievable. On behalf of our board of education, to everyone, Howa.”Gladys Noddin spoke for the Vancouver Island Regional Library, saying the building is being touted province-wide as the way of the future. She noted the library now has 2,500 new items, as well as three computers available to the public and two early learning computers. “Please help us to celebrate this special occasion. Enjoy and check out a good book,” Mrs. Noddin said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am to see this building open”, said Dennis Reindl, who worked with the multi-purpose complex committee for years. “I want to celebrate the spirit of volunteerism behind this building,” he said. He remembered that at some points in the long process, a successful outcome looked pretty grim, but in the end, thanks to so many people helping out, it happened. “Every step of the way, we managed to come up with an agreement, and the thing just went. There were so many people, so many people,” he said. “I am really, really proud, I am really, really glad we got this thing going”, he said.Minister of Education Shirley Bond was unable to attend, but sent a few words, read by Jacqueline van Dyk of the ministry. Mrs. Bond called the building a “hub for public services” and said it would be an important addition to the village. “I would like to commend the community for all of its efforts to make this project a reality,” she wrote, “You should all be proud of this new facility, which will bring community services together under one roof and support social connections for the residents of Port Clements, both now and for many years to come.” Mrs. Bond also wrote by hand on the letter “I wish I could be with you in person on this day. I am so glad that your dream building has become a reality. Congratulations!” Ms van Dyk herself added a few words, saying “this community has shown what can happen when people pull together. What you have accomplished here is becoming a model for other communities.” Other speakers included Jim Abbott of the Gwaii Trust and Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha. The building is of interest to other communities in the province, including Port Edward, as it provides an economically viable solution for small communities or ones with shrinking populations to maintain services.