A new satellite visitors’ centre opens in the Port Alberni Train Station this week, a collaboration between the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and McLean Mill National Historic Park.
“This is a natural spot,” says McLean Mill executive director Deanna Beaudoin.
“We’ve got nothing in the train station right now,” said Bill Collette, who is both the executive director for the chamber and president of the McLean Mill society. “We wanted something in there to attract people to the station…to get more people aware of the train and aware of McLean Mill.”
The other reason is to have an information centre close to Harbour Quay—arguably the city’s biggest tourist attraction—to offer information about the Alberni Valley to tourists and locals alike.
With the closing of the community policing station at Harbour Quay, there is no one on the south end of town doing visitor counts or answering questions for the people who might not have stopped at the visitors’ information centre at the top of Johnston Road heading down into the Valley, he said.
“We want to keep our visitor counts as high as possible. Visitors don’t all stop (at the main centre) and we need to find a way to get to them.”
Between the chamber of commerce and McLean Mill, Collette hopes the sharing of staff will enable them to keep the satellite centre open every day throughout the summer. The centre will have tables for people to sit and drink a cup of coffee
“I’m really excited about it,” he added.
The visitors’ centre in the train station will also feature a small gift shop with items from McLean Mill, Beaudoin said.