The political in-fighting over McLean Mill National Historic Site needs to stop.
The City of Port Alberni made a commitment more than 17 years ago to bring the mill back to life as a national historic site; that commitment won’t be fulfilled for at least another decade. It’s ours, it’s probably not going anywhere, and rather than fighting over the fact costs have been much higher than anticipated since 2000, council and the public should lose the negativity over it.
The city decided the mill needed better management and through a democratic process chose to create the McLean Mill Society to fulfill the role. That board has now come to the city and asked for a certain amount of money in order to get the job done this year.
Board members have said they feel the mill is a gem for the city. They have a graduated plan for the site that would be more inclusive to local residents as well as provide attractions for visiting families. If the mill is to be a successful tourism entity, people need to give the board the time to put their plan in motion, and be supportive of its efforts.
(We hesitate to ask why a new strategic plan was done when there was already tens of thousands of dollars spent on such a plan back in 2007, but that’s a subject for another editorial.)
City council has now spent several hours arguing over whether it should grant extra money to the society in order for the mill to operate this year, when really what they should do is support the board. After all, they created it in the first place.