Art banners reflect new focus on local highway traffic

By John Twigg, Secretary, Campbellton Neighbourhood Association

banners 012The new art banners going up on the Island Highway where it runs through the industrial part of Campbell River are another sign of changing times in the Campbellton neighbourhood.

Forty large two-sided vertical banners bearing stylized images of salmon are being put up by the City on lightposts on Tamarac and Willow Streets as part of the City's overall beautification program, with additional funding from the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association plus contributions from the artists, Curtis Wilson and Larry Stefanyk, and others. An additional 10 banners were being sold as fund-raisers for the CNA by vice-chair Kealy Donaldson, co-ordinator of the project.

The vinyl banners are expected to last for several years but their erection now is a timely coincidence with the salmon spawning season in the mighty Campbell River, still one of the world's greatest fishing rivers, plus it coincides with a new push by the CNA on its next major project: getting an "entrance feature" added on the Island Highway near 14th Avenue, on the northwest side of Campbellton near the Eagles Hall.

With the successful completion of the CNA's community garden development, CNA chair Brian Shaw and other directors are turning their attention to preparing a presentation to Council in October that will propose erecting a Beaver float plane on a pedestal on the site.

The proposed location of the new facility is a vacant pie-shaped parcel of land where the highway divides onto the one-way Tamarac and Willow Streets, which the CNA suggests could be used as a pull-out for tourists and other travellers, perhaps with maps and other information like pamphlets on hand, and a preliminary study suggests there is enough room at the site for safe entrance and exit lanes and numerous parking spaces.

Campbltn 010That makes sense now because the streets through Campbellton have become the main access ways for much of the highway traffic entering and leaving downtown Campbell River, especially for commercial trucks and industrial equipment but also motorhomes and trailers, pickups towing boats and even commuters from the airport - as well as lots of tourists and local traffic in cars.

The recent occasion of the photo opp for the banners on the bridge over the river also illustrated that there is a lot of varied traffic on the Island Highway now as well as on the highway to the John Hart Generating Station Renewal Project, and to the city's waste dump, the Campbell Lakes, two mines and the West Coast via Gold River, plus northward to industries in Campbell River North, Middle Point, Brown's Bay and the whole North Island.

All that traffic makes a good argument that the City would benefit from having a place where such traffic could easily pull into a rest stop and consider options such as where to have a meal or where to stay for the night or where to go to get a tire fixed. (There happen to be some good restaurants in Campbellton too, plus several tire stores, but those are stories for another day!)

The unique and hopefully compelling aspect of the CNA's proposal is the inclusion of the full-size Beaver float plane, which would be similar to the small jet on a pedestal at the Courtenay-Comox tourist centre but the Beaver would be more fitting to the industrial history of Campbell River because float planes were and still are such integral parts of the local logging industry - the industry the town was built on.

Shaw says CNA directors have located a retired plane that would serve well for that site but it remains to be seen if finances for it can be raised and one possibility is for the City to apply for a grant from the Canada 150 Fund.

"Clearly the City of Campbell River would benefit from having a better tourist reception facility at what is now its main entrance and we believe having that iconic plane there would help cause more people to stop and maybe shop in Campbellton too," said Shaw, noting details can be worked out on such things as number of parking spaces and maybe whether a new sani-station should be installed.