York Machine epitomizes diversity in Campbellton
Last week's column about the amazing and maybe even unique diversity of interests in the Campbellton area of town only scratched the surface, and a few items deserve a follow-up.
First, Daigle Welding & Marine IS a resident of Campbellton because its big main shop across the river is not its only property in the area: it also owns and operates a substantial storage facility inside the Campbellton borders over towards Petersen Road.
Second, York Machine Shop no longer employs 35 people - that total is now up to 45 and it's about to grow even more - maybe double? - when owner-operator Dennis Cambrey next year opens a huge new facility being built on Vigar Road in North Campbell River only a few minutes away their main plant on 17th Avenue in Campbellton.
Diversity a unique feature of Campbellton
One of the challenges facing the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association is how best to reflect the extreme diversity of interests in its relatively small share of the land in Campbell River.
A drive around Campbellton can be done in only a few minutes but it will reveal a very wide range of activities and occupants from heavy manufacturing through light manufacturing to home-made art, many large forest service companies, several major tire stores and hardware stores, quite a few varied retail and commercial businesses, several car dealers and gas stations, recreation and fitness facilities, printing and signs, telecommunications, hotels and motels, tourism, and more - including one church (Vineyard).
Planning processes were highlight of 2015
If you were asked to name the top story for Campbellton in 2015, would you have an answer ready?
Probably most people in Campbell River might wonder if anything happened in the old neighbourhood last year because a quick drive through it would suggest little has changed, but for local activists there was a surprisingly long list of notable achievements.
Certainly the construction and successful first season of the Campbellton neighbourhood garden on 15th near Petersen was a notable tangible change, and the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association's production of a documentary film about it deserves an honourable mention too, but it's hard to argue that either is a really big deal.
The opening of the Elk Falls Suspension is a much more visible and tangible development that will pay dividends to the local tourism industry for many decades to come, but is Elk Falls Provincial Park really a part of Campbellton? Probably not, though its impacts do spill over into Campbellton.
A great river runs through it . . .
What is the best asset in Campbellton? Of course there are many notable assets in Campbell River's oldest neighbourhood, starting with the iconic Quinsam Hotel that's approaching 100 years old, but there also are several important parks and tourist attractions, notably the new Elk Falls Suspension Bridge in Elk Falls Provincial Park on the northern side of Campbellton and Nunns Creek Park on its south side (which will soon be upgraded).
Another major asset is the fact that a major highway runs through Campbellton, both the old and new versions of the Island Highway, though more work needs to be done to encourage more of that traffic to stop and visit for a while (for which planning work is now in progress for an entrance feature at 14th Avenue).
One could easily say the best asset in Campbellton is its people, for there are lots of interesting characters around, but really there are not many actual residents in Campbellton compared with other neighbourhoods such as say Merecroft or Willow Point or Georgia Park, and much of the housing that is in Campbellton is small and aging.
Variety of businesses
Similarly one could say the best asset in Campbellton is its wide variety of businesses, from major ones serving resource industries to small ones serving niche markets, which no other neighbourhoods in Campbell River come close to matching in size or range or number of employees.
Indeed Campbellton is a major hub in all of B.C. for large businesses serving forestry, mining, fishing, transportation, communications and other heavy industries - like B.C. Hydro's John Hart Generating Station now in the midst of an upgrade costing $1.1 billion!
A prime example of those businesses is York Machine Shop, which was profiled here on Dec. 2. It was founded by Peter York in 1983 in a small shop at 1971 Island Highway, acquired in 1992 by Dennis Cambrey and expanded to a large facility at 1641 17th Avenue, and now it is constructing a much larger "shop" across the river in North Campbell River; it now employs about 45 people and is inventing, manufacturing and selling new machining devices all around the world.
CNA annual meeting set for Jan. 13
Food scene growing in Campbellton
All neighbourhoods develop and evolve different traits over time and the historic Campbellton neighbourhood certainly demonstrates that, especially in recent years through the urban renewal efforts of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association.
But other trends are evident too, such as shifts in the resource-based service industries and modernization of old housing, and one of the newer trends is some renewal in its restaurants and food-industry scene.
A prime example of that is Ryan's Pizzeria in the bowling alley on 16th Avenue, which has long been popular for take-outs of award-winning pizzas and now has expanded its kitchen, added some pasta dishes and other items to its menu and upgraded its dining room.
The restaurant, which is fully licensed, is still offering burgers, sandwiches and other snacks popular with bowlers but now its dining room includes two TV screens, a cozy fireplace and lots of tables ready to welcome large groups such as for bowling league participants.
The complex's owner, Ian Fong, has been a long-time supporter of the CNA, providing an office for its start-up and more recently letting the community garden committee meet in what is now the new dining room.
So thanks and best wishes to Ryan's!
Another example is the hopefully-soon-to-reopen restaurant in the landmark Quinsam Hotel, which is being worked on by new operators Brian Welz and Fred Mohammed (as reported here on Sept. 9).
The storied pub was reopened first as-is, live music returned a few weeks later and now their focus is on refurbishing the old restaurant, long popular for its home-cooked and affordable meals.
Coming soon will be a new outlet of Nesbitt's Island Coffee, going in soon and opening early next year at 1995 Island Highway (formerly Campbellton Motor Cars).
A leaflet distributed in the area by Nesbitts indicates that the high-traffic location (near the corner of Tamarac and Island Highway) also will offer some office and retail space.
It will be the second outlet in Campbell River for Nesbitt's, also at 1140 Shoppers Row, and their move into Campbellton will be another vote of confidence for its renewal.
Though Campbellton is not renowned as a destination for epicurian gourmands it does in fact have several restaurants notable for some unique attributes and excellent food.
White Tower Restaurant at 1920 Island Highway has long been popular for its large and varied menu of Greek, Italian and Canadian favourites such as steaks and seafood but since new owners Vasilis and Surinder Tsangaris took over a few years ago they have added several East Indian dishes to the menu including even some Indian-themed pizzas.
Nearby is the Beijing House Restaurant, at 1850 Island Highway (formerly Leto's), where owners Eric Zhao and Cherry Che are offering an array of spicy northern-style Chinese dishes which are difficult to find even in big cities with large Chinese populations. Their customers keep returning, especially for their Monday lunch buffet.
Meanwhile across the street is the Ginger Beef House, at 1851 Island Highway, which offers the full array of traditional and westernized versions of Cantonese or southern-styled Chinese foods; it is frequently busy with its all-you-can-eat buffets for both lunch and dinner.
And nearby is the venerable Duke's, formerly at a dockside site downtown but now an institution at 1901 Island Highway in Campbellton; it offers classic Canadian fare from early-morning hearty breakfasts to affordable dinner specials and lots of coffee all day.
There are several other food outlets in Campbellton, including two McDonald's outlets, and more are nearby such as the aptly-named Ideal Cafe across the river, but it cannot be said that Campbellton's food scene is small and boring!
Video premiere set for Dec. 1
The premiere of a 28-minute video on the making of the Campbellton Community Garden will take place on Tuesday Dec. 1 at the Beijing House Restaurant, 1850 Island Highway, with a no-host-bar reception beginning at 5 p.m.
The video traces the history of the garden project and makes various points including that growing more food locally makes the community more sustainable and helps save energy.
An early three-minute version of the video was entered in B.C. Hydro's Community Champions contest and can be viewed at https://champions.bchydro.com/entries/honourable_mentions .
CNA annual meeting set for Jan. 13
The annual general meeting of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association has been set for Wednesday Jan. 13 at the Eagles Hall, with doors open at 5 p.m.
The event will include reports on recent and future CNA activities and the election of directors; it is a not-for-profit society operated by volunteers.
New streetlights coming in Campbellton
The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association's long-standing request for better street lighting in the area is about to be met by B.C. Hydro.
Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson confirmed that a work order has been issued to local crews to begin the installation of 20 new streetlights in coming weeks.
That partially answers requests for new lights submitted about a year ago by the CNA to both Hydro and the City of Campbell River after inventories of the neighbourhood's assets and liabilities discovered that the area had too few lights for modern standards and that the lights it does have tended to be old, dim and with short arm overhangs, posing some added dangers to pedestrians and vehicles.
Those needs were studied by a retired Hydro employee who produced a map showing several dozen spots where old lights need to be replaced and other sites where new lights need to be added; some of those are for sites in City-managed locations that may also be addressed by the City in next year's budget.
"This is great news for Campbellton," said CNA chair Brian Shaw, noting it will make the area a safer place to live and work this winter and for years ahead.
The improved lighting is the latest of several street improvements flowing from the lobbying begun by the CNA soon after it was formed about four years ago; others include several blocks of new sidewalks, some pedestrian crossing lights, a new light-controlled intersection at 14th and Petersen and most recently a major safety upgrade on the Petersen Road hill.
Call for participants in next year's garden
The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association and its Community Garden committee have issued a call for expressions of interest from potential participants in next year's activities.
This year all 22 beds were taken in a season that started late but still succeeded in producing crops and most of those plots are spoken for next year too but the CNA will consider adding another 20 beds or so in a potential Phase 2 expansion of its designated space in a community park on 15th Avenue near Petersen Road.
If at least 10 people from anywhere in the city register to take a plot then the CNA will proceed with the expansion, but if not then it will wait until 2017 or later.
Last call for sponsors of CNA's garden video
A 28-minute video on the CNA's community garden project is nearing completion but individuals and businesses wishing to make donations in support of the video project still have time be included as sponsors in the video's credits.
An early three-minute version of the video was entered in B.C. Hydro's Community Champions contest and can be viewed at https://champions.bchydro.com/entries/honourable_mentions.
The video traces the history of the garden project and makes various points including that growing more food locally makes the community more sustainable and helps save energy.
Mixed uses is the nature of Campbellton
The unique mixed-use nature of the Campbellton neighbourhood has come to the fore again via some disparate business events.
The importance of manufacturing to a healthy economy - which is done by numerous businesses in or near the Campbellton area - was emphasized anew at the 2015 State of the Island Economic Summit Oct. 28-29 in Nanaimo's impressive Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
About a dozen city and business officials from Campbell River attended the ninth annual event and while only a few of the delegates were associated directly with Campbellton one of the key themes of the event was that manufacturing provides the much-needed high-paying jobs that come from value-added activities, especially in forestry-related manufacturing businesses - and such businesses are arguably the dominant activity in Campbellton too, certainly historically in production and also presently in services.
Whether it is local tire companies selling big tires for logging trucks or consulting companies advising on how to manage cutblocks, forestry is a major employer in Campbellton much moreso than in say the downtown and Willow Point areas where the emphasis is on retail and commercial businesses such as in banking, real estate, groceries and of course services such as City Hall and the community centre.
That industrial orientation of Campbellton was likely to be evident anew in the Business Walk event planned for Wednesday (Nov. 4) by the Campbell River Chamber of Commerce in which business and political leaders were to go door to door interviewing business operators about the issues they face and what they think could and should be done about them. Interestingly, the present chair of the chamber, Corby Lamb, is the owner-operator of Campbellton-based Capacity Forest Management Ltd., which specializes in managing forest licences for First Nations.
Campbellton Neighbourhood Association chair Brian Shaw and other CNA officials were planning to participate in the walk and were likely to learn anew that Campbellton's unique blend of industrial, commercial and residential activities can sometimes conflict and sometimes extra efforts are needed to help them co-exist as well as possible.
Those conflicts between users have been noticed in the current City and CNA study of ways public access to the Campbell River riverside could be improved, with a few locations noted where improved recreational access could conflict with local residents' desires for privacy; there also was some of that seen with the CNA's development of the community garden on 15th Avenue near Petersen, it could become a factor in the development of social housing in the area and it may be a factor in future plans for Haig-Brown House (e.g. more parking!), among others.
Those competing interests also illustrate why the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association is neither mainly a residents' association (though it does often fight for residents' needs such as for better lighting and pedestrian safety) and nor is it seeking to become a registered business improvement area (BIA) (though the CNA does do some business advocacy too). Instead the CNA has become a blend of those over-lapping and sometimes competing interests, which simply reflects the reality of the area.
And while some people on both sides of the resident and business divides sometimes question that mix, the benefits of it were clearly evident when a variety of forest industry people and businesses were instrumental in helping to finance and construct the successful community garden.
The CNA's lobbying also was instrumental in convincing the City to undertake the recently-completed traffic upgrades on the Petersen Road hill, which now make it much safer for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists - thank you City Hall!!
The future of Campbellton and its Neighbourhood Association will depend on whatever people make it become, with everyone welcome to participate in the CNA's annual meeting in January at a location yet to be determined.
VIU students help CNA envision progress
I have been recently corresponding with Dr. Pamela Shaw from Vancouver Island University about how she and her urban planning students could help the Campbellton neighbourhood in months ahead.
Pam and her students originally were brought to the Campbellton neighborhood in 2013 through Ross Blackwell, a former Urban Planner for Campbell River, and they proved to be most helpful to the cause of renewing the historic but aging area along the river.
The Neighborhood Association's members in 2012 had completed an inventory of the community's needs then in 2013 Pam brought her entire urban geography class from Nanaimo and set them on a project to create an urban plan for Campbellton and the excellent report they produced can still be viewed on our CNA website ( http://campbelltonfirst.homestead.com/). It contains over 70 different ideas for “Place Making” in this community.
When we first started the Association in 2011 we had ideas and vision but no direction. However the consultants we have engaged have focused in on objectives that have given us goals for that vision, many of which have already been acted on, such as improved sidewalks and pedestrian crossings and the expected arrival soon of improved lighting.
One of the key ideas urged by the students was the development of a community garden and so now in the midst of residences and industrial businesses there is one on 15th Avenue near Petersen Road.
Those many projects in the original VIU plan are now being complemented by significant follow-up. For example, VIU Masters student Keltie Chamberlain last year completed a study on improving Hwy 19A through the commercial core of Campbellton and on improving public access to the Campbell River waterfront (a report on which also is viewable on the website).
As a consequence of that work City Council approved spending $16,000 for a professional feasibility study for viewing platforms and other improvements needed along the Campbell River and the Myrt THompson Trail, a preliminary version of which recently was presented at a Public Open House; the final version is expected to be presented to City Council in November.
The concept is:
- Improve access and visibility to the River in Campbellton to get more local and tourist users.
- More users will entice more businesses to locate nearby and enhance those currently here.
- More use will encourage improvements to Hwy 19A, the main thoroughfare
- Beautification will encourage more residents to buy locally.
Not bad eh! A Win-Win for everyone.
It may be partly because of the success that Dr. Shaw has had with her class in Campbellton that the VIU has now created a Masters in Urban Planning Program, based in Nanaimo.
Dr. Shaw's latest crop of post-graduate students will soon be returning to Campbellton to once again delve more deeply into the various projects that have already been identified and new ones coming along, such as the CNA's current proposal for the development of an entrance feature at 14th Avenue on a vacant parcel of land between the north and southbound lanes of the Island Highway, for which the CNA recently made a presentation to City Council meeting as Committee of the Whole.
What a great resource the VIU students have been! And kudos to City Council for availing ourselves of it.
Improvements eyed for Myrt Thompson Trail
A 30-feet-high viewing tower and some parking at the end of Maple Street are among a series of possible additions to the Myrt Thompson Trail area unveiled last week at a public open house in the city's Enterprise Centre.
Planning consultants Pat Harrison and Ross Sharp unveiled a series of panels of notated maps and other illustrations detailing a variety of possible improvements and problem mitigations along the southwest shore of the Campbell River from the Tamarac Street bridge downstream to the estuary, some of which involve the commercial-residential part of Campbellton and much of which covers the somewhat problematic walking trail that runs southward from the end of Maple Street, borders on vacant land owned by the Campbell River Indian Band and ends at a former log dump.
Harrison and Sharp expect to submit a final report to City Council in November that will incorporate the feedback they get, after which council will decide which items - if any - make it into next year's city budget and/or go into a process of seeking donations and contributions from senior governments and interested agencies.
The project began with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association's realization several years ago that there is a lack of public access to the riverfront in the urban part of Campbellton but the resulting study commissioned by the City soon discovered other concerns, especially erosion of some river banks in the trail area but also some public safety concerns such as poor paths and refuse left by vagrants.
The whole area is particularly sensitive because of its fisheries values and further conflicts could arise in the trail area if or when the Campbell River Indian Band decides to develop its adjacent vacant lands, which with their river views would provide some prime opportunities for commercial and housing projects - assuming the river banks are made safe from flooding.
Vast vistas envisioned
Meanwhile the star of the show was the suggested 30-feet-high multi-stage viewing tower on the site of a former log-sorting yard that in the generally flat estuary would provide vast vistas in all four directions including of the river mouth, Discovery Passage and the mountains, but if, how and when it would be built and by whom remain to be seen, though there was some consensus among visitors that such a tower would be another boon to local tourism perhaps akin to or even associated with the new Elk Falls Suspension Bridge such as by connecting it to the existing network of walking and biking paths.
Also popular was the idea of adding a handful of parking spaces plus a covered viewing deck at the end of Maple Street where the City owns a small bit of land between a private parcel on the waterfront and the CRIB lands across the street. The trail is popular with off-leash dog-walkers from all around the city but the lack of parking is already a problem.
The planning study also includes the possible addition of a small public viewing space at the end of Spruce Street and a somewhat larger public space beneath the Tamarac Street bridge.
The open house was attended by Mayor Andy Adams and Councillors Larry Samson, Charlie Cornfield and Colleen Evans who seemed generally pleased with the presentation, with Cornfield pressing the importance of working from original legal lot maps and not the more recent computerized versions when setting the exact boundaries of any future projects.
CNA's garden video posted by BC Hydro
The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association's short video about its community garden project has failed to make the finals to win a cash award in B.C. Hydro's Community Champions contest but it did get an honourable mention and a posting on Hydro's contest website.
The video traces the history of the garden project on 15th Avenue near Petersen Road and makes various points including that growing more food locally makes the community more sustainable and helps save energy.
It can be viewed at https://champions.bchydro.com/entries/honourable_mentions.
CNA party gives thanks for garden success
Despite very blustery winds about 50 people turned out Friday (Oct. 9) to help the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association give thanks to the donors, sponsors and activists who made the new Campbellton Community Garden a great success.
Though the weather forecasts were for heavy rain the organizers and participants were blessed to catch several hours of dryness that even offered a few patches of blue sky, a nice symbol of how things worked out so well for the garden.
The garden, located in a formerly-vacant city-owned park on 15th Avenue near Petersen Road, was only conceived late last year, pitched to the City early this year, approved in April, built hastily in May and first planted in June - a late start that nonetheless still enabled the production of some decent crops as the visitors on Friday afternoon were able to witness, touch and even sample.
Attendees included Mayor Andy Adams, Councillors Ron Kerr, Colleen Evans and Larry Samson, and many of the individuals and company representatives who donated time, money, labour and materials to make possible the initial construction of 22 beds; their names were recognized for posterity on a new sign made for the occasion. There is room for another 20+ beds to be added when resources permit.
CNA director Ross Sharp, who did much of the garden project planning and stick-handled it through City Hall, welcomed visitors on behalf of CNA chair Brian Shaw, who had to depart due to illness but still managed to put up his large tent for the event as well as provide the barbecue that cooked free hamburgers for the guests; they also enjoyed several delicious potluck contributions and beverages.
A large cake made for the occasion was cut by Ann Hazlett, one of the most active local-resident gardeners and a co-producer of two videos being made about how the innovative garden project can be seen as a pioneering step towards reducing the area's heavy dependance on foods produced elsewhere and from off of Vancouver Island.
Garden video in contest
A preliminary short version of the video about the garden project has been entered by the CNA in B.C. Hydro's Community Champions contest in which viewers can vote once a day from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30 on which videos deserve the top prizes in several categories regarding aspects such as energy conservation, environmental awareness, sustainability and community benefits. It's viewable at www.champions.bchydro.com .
Open House Thursday - Re:
Myrt Thompson Trail
Options for what could or should be done with the Myrt Thompson Trail will be the subject of a public presentation Thursday (Oct. 15) from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the boardroom of the Enterprise Centre adjacent to City Hall.
Planning consultants Ross Sharp and Pat Harrison for much of this year have been studying public access to the Campbell River shores in the Campbellton area for the City and the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association in consultation with various interest groups and as part of that process they have developed a presentation focussed on the Myrt Thompson Trail which runs from the end of Maple Street southeastward along the river shore to the estuary - all along lands belonging to and/or claimed (rightfully) by the Campbell River Indian Band (e.g. half of the now-paved Maple Street roadway).
All citizens of Campbell River are welcome to attend, especially those who frequently use the popular and scenic walking paths; some of those paths are at risk from erosion.
The Quinnie IS back
The long-popular Quinsam Hotel is back open for business in the bar and the new operators are hoping to reopen the restaurant soon too, according to spokesman Fred Mohammed.
Live rock music also returned recently with a two-night stand by Raincoast Rollers, a recently-formed collection of veteran players featuring lead singer Rich Hagensen who quite appropriately for the venue has deep roots in Campbellton.
The venue is on Rte. 19A at Maple Street at the southeasterly beginning of Campbellton's commercial district. It is owned by the We Wai Kai (Cape Mudge) First Nation.
CNA hosts garden open house
In the grand scheme of things the Campbellton Community Garden cannot be considered a big deal but it IS an important beginning.
Even among the other community gardens in and around Campbell River the CNA one on 15th Avenue near Petersen is humble, having started late in the spring, been built entirely by volunteers using donated and discounted materials and presently growing in only 22 plots - but next year if energy and donations permit it could approximately double its size.
Meanwhile the garden, which is organic, has already achieved some notable successes, not only growing some good crops (especially beets!) but also building positive new relationships between the gardeners (some of whom are from outside Campbellton which is fair because the garden sits on City land) and it has boosted the profile of the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association amongst residents and businesses in the neighbourhood and thereby helped sell the notion that the CNA after four years of start-up might well be a good thing worth supporting too.
Free BBQ Friday
To celebrate those garden achievements the CNA will be hosting an Open House in the garden on this Friday (Oct. 9) from 4 p.m to 7 p.m., with a free barbecue and potluck under two tents plus recognition to the many volunteers, donors and sponsors who made it possible. Everyone interested is welcome.
The importance of the garden however goes beyond growing some nice veggies for local residents because it also is part of the City of Campbell River's food strategy in its official sustainability plan, namely to have 10 per cent of food consumed locally to have been produced locally by 2031, whereas now it's around 1 to 3 per cent.
That doesn't sound like much, and frankly it probably should be more than that sooner than that, but it is progress towards two important goals, reducing the fossil-fuel energy used in trucking products like lettuce (about 95% water BTW!) from California to Vancouver Island and two: enhancing local self-sufficiency in the event of supply disruptions from afar (e.g. this year's drought in California).
CNA produces video
All of those factors are the theme of a new short documentary video on the garden project that was produced by the CNA for entry in B.C. Hydro's Community Champions online contest which involves viewers voting up to once a day from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 for their favorite videos in several categories, with those votes influencing judges who will award prizes of up to $10,000 each (over two years) to winning entries.
If the CNA wins one of those prizes the proceeds will go towards building the garden's Phase 2, and after that it will begin looking for more spaces for more new gardens.
The move to more local food in fact has so many subtle spinoff benefits, such as jobs and health, that it also has become part of the current federal election campaign. So yes, maybe the Campbellton Community Garden IS a big deal!