Public upset over sale of plywood lots in Alberni

The lack of public consultation on the proposed sale of plywood lots A and B have waterfront advocates and some on city council up in arms.

The City of Port Alberni is considering the sale of plywood lots A and B to the parent company of Canadian Alberni Engineering.

The lack of public consultation and discussion on the proposed sale of plywood lots A and B have both waterfront advocates and members of city council up in arms.

“I have always believed that the key to success for an initiative is to have good public input, with an opportunity for community participation and the resulting support,” said former Port Alberni mayor John Douglas following the current council’s announcement last week that the sale of lots A and B to the parent company of Canadian Alberni Engineering was pending.

“The city is proceeding with the sale of lots A and B of the former plywood mill site to 1076565D B.C. Ltd. This numbered company is wholly owned by Canadian Maritime Engineering.”

They in turn own Canadian Alberni Engineering, Mayor Mike Ruttan announced at city council on May 24. Lots A, B and C are located on the Alberni Inlet waterfront to the south of Western Forest Products’ Alberni Pacific Division sawmill and to the north of the Tseshaht First Nation owned Polly’s Point. Lots C (now known as Canal Beach) and A are adjacent to the water, although Lot A’s foreshore is crown and not city-owned land.

Lot B, located above Lot A, is currently largely used for storage and overflow parking by WFP and events taking place at Canal Beach.

The two lots have had a contentious history. The city originally purchased Lots A, B and C (now know as Canal Beach) from Macmillan Bloedel in 1993 for $1.

(Interested in the history of plywood lots A and B? Read about the initial lease to the port authority in 2014 herethe public’s reaction herecouncil’s discussion about terminating the lease in summer 2015 herethe city’s decision to terminate the lease here and the end of that lease here.)

The catch? A restrictive covenant (now transferred to WFP) which bans overnight stays and any other use than industrial or commercial.

Covenant on Ex-Plywood Mill Property in Alberni


According to the covenant, “the city shall not use the city lands for any purpose other than for industrial or commercial use…and the city shall not use the city lands for any residential or tourist accommodation purposes.”

The lots are also contaminated—they were never properly remediated before the sale, according to an environmental assessment commissioned by the city and carried out by SLR Consulting Ltd. in 2011.

Port Alberni Plywood Site Environmental Assessement


According to the report, “a risk assessment indicated there were no unacceptable human health and ecological risks present at Lot B if the groundwater will not be used as a potable water source. The assessment indicated that for Lot A there could be potential unacceptable adverse health effects for construction and utility workers when exposed to contaminated groundwater and/or soil vapours.”

According to Ruttan, the remediation costs (estimated between $1.63-5.5 million), the covenant and the possibility of job creation were good reasons to sell the lot to CAE.

Both the covenant and remediation costs will be passed on to the buyer, he said.

“There are some significant remediation issues there and we believe that (CAE) has the potential to create significant additional economic activity and significant additional jobs for residents in this community.”

Russell Industries, the parent company of Canadian Alberni Engineering, did not return calls to the News by press time.

Coun. Chris Alemany  disagreed with the thought that the land merely needed to be sold off, pointing to the city’s 2007 Uptown and Waterfront Redevelopment Study.

“The 2007 report identified a desire in the community to try to remove that covenant so the site could move in a different direction,” Alemany said.

While Douglas said that the city had tried to negotiate the covenant during his term without any results, Alemany said that it’s time to try again—and approach WFP “as stakeholders in the community that mutually benefit from the community evolving and diversifying, particularly on the waterfront.”

Until the covenant is lifted, Alemany said, there’s little point worrying over the contamination.


Just Posted

VIDEO: Man extracted from vehicle eight hours after accident near Cameron Lake

People making pit stop at picnic area made crash discovery

Person extracted from vehicle accident in Cameron Lake

A person has been extracted today from a reported vehicle accident in… Continue reading

Learn about Port Alberni’s mayoral candidates with new film series

Alberni Valley filmmaker Dallas Dalziel discusses key issues with candidates

City of Port Alberni issues water quality alert for Kitsuksis Creek area

Kitsuksis Creek residents urged to use alternate drinking water source

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. premier apologizes for removal of 1950s totem pole at Canada-U.S. border

First Nations say pole was raised at Peace Arch but removed to make way for tourism centre

Tornado touches down in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

Environment Canada says cars and homes have been damaged by severe thunderstorms and high wind gusts

An unexpected sight: Bear spotted eating another bear in central B.C.

Cheslatta Carrier Nation Chief finds bear eating another bear’s carcass

RCMP confirm death of missing BC teen Jessica Patrick

No details on cause were given. Case is under criminal investigation and police are asking for tips.

CUTENESS OVERLOAD: 2 sea otters hold hands at the Vancouver Aquarium

Holding hands is a common – and adorable – way for otters to stay safe in the water

B.C. teen with autism a talented guitarist

Farley Mifsud is gaining fans with every performance

Yukon man facing new attempted murder charge in B.C. exploding mail case

Leon Nepper, 73, is now facing one charge each of aggravated assault and attempted murder

B.C. man who left hospice to run in upcoming election dies

A week after leaving hospice to go to city hall to declare his candidacy, David Hesketh has died.

Most Read