A few site repairs will be taking place at McLean Mill National Historic Site thanks to $120,000 in funding from multiple levels of government.
The City of Port Alberni was successful this month in obtaining a $60,000 cost-sharing grant from Parks Canada for McLean Mill. The $60,000 from the federal government will be matched by $60,000 from the city and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District combined.
The total of $120,000 in funding will go towards repairs at the National Historic Site, including a variety of projects on the Arnold McLean Garage and temporary roofs for the Worker House, Cookhouse and Garage. The funding will be available on April 1.
The structures were selected based on a site assessment conducted in 2018 by John Dam & Associates, outlining a number of buildings that are in “critical” need of repair. The city is struggling to balance this list of needs with “finite resources,” said Parks, Recreation and Heritage director Willa Thorpe during a council meeting on Monday, March 11.
Councillor Cindy Solda expressed concern with the “temporary” roofs for the Worker House, Cookhouse and Garage.
“My problem is that it’s all temporary,” said Solda. “If you’re going to do it, let’s do it.”
Thorpe said that the temporary roofs are based on budget limitations. “The intention behind temporary roofs is the ability to essentially ‘press pause’ on the deterioration, to avoid further deterioration from the elements,” she said. “Whenever possible, we’ll look at permanent fixes. For future phases, we can consider exploring the next steps with those structures.”
Mayor Sharie Minions explained that the cost of repairs is so high because of the National Historic Site designation, which requires fixes to adhere to preservation guidelines.
“It is a challenging number to comprehend,” she admitted.
There is a maintenace backlog for McLean Mill repairs, she added, which is why the city is currently in a “critical” situation.