Alberni Inlet needs cohesive plan

It's time to plan what businesses down the Inlet to look like, how we are going to protect the environment, and meet Aboriginal interests.

More and more focus is turning to the Alberni Inlet for economic and recreational opportunities.

The Port Alberni Port Authority has plans for a trans-shipment hub at the mouth of the Inlet. There is talk about a liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline and shipping facility. Raven Coal and coal shipments from Port Alberni are not completely off the table yet, and two mining resource companies are looking at starting a mine at Nahmint.

Closer to civilization, there is already a well-established sawmill on the banks of the Inlet courtesy of Coulson’s, there are log sorts, tugboat businesses, a fish processing vessel and more commercial marine businesses.

The development of Canal Beach, downwind of APD Sawmill, is sure to increase recreational use of the Inlet from windsurfers, kayakers, sailors and others.

The new Centennial Pier holds promise for more cruise ship visits and maybe even float plane service.

With all this interest and activity, it is time for a cohesive plan on what we want business down the Inlet to look like, and how we are going to protect the marine and shore environments, as well as First Nations land interests.

The port authority on Thursday will announce a partnership with a First Nation as it embarks on a feasibility study of the trans-shipment hub, which is a good start. But will it be enough?

There is currently a Waterfront North study underway, examining future development along the Somass River. That study will be useless if something further down the Inlet goes terribly wrong.

— Alberni Valley News