EDITORIAL: City of Port Alberni needs to step up over McLean Mill

What was once a main part of the city’s Alberni Heritage Network is in jeopardy

It’s time for the City of Port Alberni to take back control of McLean Mill National Historic Site.

Two major incidents have happened at the mill this year without the city’s knowledge. The first, when what turned out to be a small heritage building was torn down, could have seen the mill stripped of its national historic site designation.

The second, which happened late last week, saw water quality in the Kitsuksis Creek threatened when a sluice gate replacement project in the mill’s log pond went awry. The Alberni Valley Enhancement Society, which has a hatchery at the mill site, took on the project without city consultation.

Both incidents occurred while the city has had an ‘arm’s length’ relationship to the McLean Mill Society, which the city put in charge of the mill in 2016.

We have to wonder if either incident would have happened if the city had more of a role in the operation at the mill.

More than a year ago, we advocated in this newspaper to give the McLean Mill Society a chance—its members were new people taking over a site that needed a different direction, but they had to take an accounting of their assets first. We felt they needed time to find their footing, and they deserved to do it without the widespread criticism they were receiving.

Two years after the society was formed, they’re still trying to find their way. In the meantime, the steam mill hasn’t operated for two summers, and the steam train has only made a handful of runs—two of the main draws to the national historic site.

What was once a main part of the city’s Alberni Heritage Network is in jeopardy.

There must be a more open line of communication between the city, the mill society and other organizations such as the AVEA that operate at the mill.

— Alberni Valley News

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