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City of Port Alberni looks for ideas on Somass Lands

City has issued Request for Expressions of Interest
Jo and Timothy Gislason, left, look at the scenery from the waterfront walkway that opened on the Somass lands July 1, 2022. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The City of Port Alberni is taking the next step on the redevelopment of the Somass Lands.

Through an official Request for Expressions of Interest (REOI) process, the city hopes to identify parties who want to be involved in the redevelopment of the Somass Lands, a 43-acre parcel of waterfront land where the Somass Division sawmill formerly operated. The city purchased the lands in 2021 for $5.3 million from Western Forest Products.

READ MORE: City of Port Alberni buys Somass Sawmill lands for $5.3 million

During a meeting of city council on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Mayor Sharie Minions said the city has had “overwhelming” interest in the Somass Lands from both large developers and small users.

“We wanted to make sure when we began a public process on the redevelopment of this site that we didn’t overlook the fact that there are several small businesses in our community who we think want to have a part in that redevelopment, as well,” she said.

The REOI is open to parties who are interested in purchasing the property or in partnering with the city, as well as business owners looking to open new businesses on the lands or expanding existing operations.

Minions says this process will be followed by a Request for Qualifiers, which is a more in-depth look at potential developers of the site. The city may then undertake a Request for Proposals process before considering its final selection in 2023.

“This is just the beginning of the process,” said Minions on Tuesday.

The REOI can be viewed at The city’s development services staff will be working on the process with Jennifer Podmore Russell of real estate company Rennie and the city’s legal team.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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