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Lights approval means a merry Port Alberni Christmas after all

Ministry of Transportation expedites temporary approval for ‘limited’ return of main road lights
Two workers install Christmas lights in a tree in the 4700-block of Johnston Road on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The City of Port Alberni has received approval from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to install a limited light display on Johnston Road in time for the holiday season.

“We understand how disappointing it is not to be able to view this year’s Christmas light display on Johnston Road,” said city CAO Mike Fox. “Now that we have received the required temporary approvals from the province, the city will be moving quickly to erect the lights on Johnston Road early next week.”

For the first time in many years the city’s light display on lower Johnston Road did not include strings of lights and Christmas-themed characters that usually stretched from one side of the highway to the other. Members of the public voiced their displeasure on social media and numerous calls to government officials. City councillor Cindy Solda brought up the lack of lights at the Nov. 27 council meeting, expressing her disappointment.

READ: Province nixes Christmas lights on main road through Port Alberni

Fox said at the time that through talks with MOTI the city learned their Christmas lights did not meet provincial standards for lights that cross highways. Lower Johnston Road is considered to be part of provincial Highway 4. The city also did not have a permit for the lights.

Transportation ministry policy requires municipalities to apply for a permit to ensure all safety requirements are met when stringing lights across a highway. These include safety clearances for commercial vehicles and ensuring lights do not obstruct street signs.

In advance of next year’s holiday season, Fox said the city will be seeking public feedback on its festive lighting program.

“We understand the holiday season is a stressful time for many of us,” Fox said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their patience and help, including the city’s operations manager, MLA, mayor and council and ministry staff, to get the Christmas lights back up on Johnston Road.”

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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