The visitors’ centre and courtyard are the first places that greet visitors to McLean Mill National Historic Site in Port Alberni, B.C. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

The visitors’ centre and courtyard are the first places that greet visitors to McLean Mill National Historic Site in Port Alberni, B.C. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Port Alberni’s McLean Mill exclusion application now in ALC’s hands

Decision on whether to remove national historic site from ALR ‘could take months’

The City of Port Alberni’s application to exclude McLean Mill from the Agricultural Land Reserve is now in the hands of the Agricultural Land Commission.

“We received the fee (May 11),” ALC policy analyst Lindsay McCoubrey said.

The application went before the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District on April 28 for board approval, which was granted, then was passed on to the ALC. All this now takes place electronically within an internet portal accessible to all parties.

READ: McLean Mill application breaks new ground for ALC

The application has been sent to the ALC’s mapping department. Once mapping is complete the application will be sent to the land use planner assigned to the region, McCoubrey explained. “They review all the submitted material…as well as any submissions sent by the public.”

Once the mapping is complete the application will be visible to the public on the ALC’s website under the “application search” function. At that time the ALC will have what is called an exclusion meeting with the applicant (the city), and a decision will be made public.

The process could take months before a decision is made, depending on how many other applications are in the ALC’s queue, McCoubrey said. “This is a pretty busy time of year.”

The city is waiting on an opinion from the compliance and enforcement department about whether they may continue operations at the mill while the application is with the ALC.

Steve Laing from the ALC’s enforcement and compliance branch had promised the city he would refrain from any enforcement on the city’s dealings at McLean Mill National Historic Site as long as the application was progressing, and that he was kept apprised of its progress.

“We don’t want to just assume the same application applies,” city director of corporate services Twyla Slonski said. “Right now we’re waiting to confirm.”

READ MORE: ALC denies City of Port Alberni’s application for McLean Mill

The application process has drawn public interest from residents concerned with the way the city has been managing problems at the mill recently. Some have also criticized the city’s handling of the exclusion application.

McCoubrey explained in a previous interview that the process for applying for exclusion from the ALR changed in September 2020 and the McLean Mill application is one of the first to undergo the new process.

The City of Port Alberni held a public hearing on the issue so another hearing will not be held, McCoubrey said. “The new exclusion process has the applicant posting the public hearing. In this case the applicant was the city.”

The public still has a chance to give their input on the application by e-mailing McCoubrey said any material already provided to the city or the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District has been passed on to the ALC and does not need to be re-submitted.

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