LETTERS: McLean Mill ‘too much of a city drain’

Dec. 8: National Historic Site in two writers' sights, while another shows compassion for family

McLean Mill too much of a city drain

To the Editor,

The financial woes of McLean Mill are well documented.  This year is no different than any other.

In recent budget surveys, similar to previous feedback from taxpayers to council by letter, at round-table sessions and other budget meetings and surveys, the top item identified by taxpayers where spending should be cut, is McLean Mill.

In March 2012, councillor McLeman said, “we need to give the mill three more years, and see where we’re at.” At a recent meeting, councillor McLeman suggested we give it “four more years”.

Well, we’re nearly two years past the “three more years.”  The dates have changed, the council has changed, but the economic illness that afflicts the McLean Mill attraction goes on. Data from the city’s financial records show that municipal tax alone has subsidized the mill with $8.8 million since 1995. A minimum of $360,000 representing this year’s subsidy will be added to that total.

This does not include the millions of tax dollars from other sources having been spent at the site, or any of the city’s portion for funding Kitsuksis Creek rehabilitation, repair of the dam, or the ongoing required visits by city crews to service and inspect the site.

At the time the dam was being reconstructed, taxpayers were told that expenses for the utilities crew attending McLean Mill would be noted, and tracked separately.  Unfortunately, that did not happen.  These expenses are “absorbed” into the larger city operating budget, and are difficult to obtain.

Nonetheless, they are additional expenses on a property and venture that is not a core service for the city.

Some may disagree. However, when viewed in the context of significant underspending on infrastructure, taxpayers should see the spending of $16 million of combined taxpayer money on McLean Mill over a two-decade period, all presided over by our elected councillors, as bordering on ridiculous.

The intravenous drip of taxpayer dollars to this facility needs to stop.

Roland Smith,

Port Alberni

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Time to shut the mill, keep the train

To the Editor,

I may be just a dumb old logger who has lived a lifetime in this once beautiful Valley, but it is failing as a decent and a good place to live due to bad decisions by some of our community leaders and bureaucrats.

One of the reasons I think only 30 per cent of residents here even bother to vote at our municipal elections is because of apathy and the creation of the McLean Mill as a national historic site.

What’s left of the mill and site is nowhere what was put together by R.B. McLean in the 1930s, which was mostly by parts from other bygone mills and companies. As a result of Mr. McLean’s knowledge and foresight McLean Mill employed many families and people for many years. Unfortunately the mill was closed years ago with most of the machinery equipment and buildings left on the site, possibly as a future asset to this whole valley.

The best way to deal with high mill costs in my opinion is to shut the mill down and only keep the steam train going.

We all know there has to be a certified steam engineer on the train and probably some crew members also.

If we have to pay certified people to operate it, then so be it.

Let us not forget the many volunteers who put so much of their ongoing time and effort into the historical roundhouse and train yard.

I suggest the whoever is in charge of the mill should just disband all the committees and experts including, the well paid mill crew.

Maybe in the New Year we can see some new faces and ideas.

What should be done is a complete audit on the whole operation so the long-serving taxpayers in this Valley will have a better idea of what, why and who is responsible for the mill’s present status. What we have right  now is known as a gong show.

Let’s hope for better things in the New Year.

Wayne Crowley,

Port Alberni

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Man’s family deserves help

To the Editor,

Re: Family grapples with father’s death, Dec. 1.

In last Thursday’s paper was the unfortunate story of a local man named Gordon Robinson who apparently died accidentally while in Cuba visiting his family. The story goes on to say it will cost his family more than $30,000 to have his body shipped home her to Port Alberni, including $7,000 to get his body cremated.

Why will it cost his family so much? It appears that someone is charging way too much and is gouging this family. This high cost is so very wrong.

Where is justice and fairness? It’s time our politicians did something to control and stop this ripping off of innocent people.

Eric Hockaday,

Port Alberni