Group wants City of Port Alberni to renaturalize Dry Creek estuary

Group wants City of Port Alberni to renaturalize Dry Creek estuary

A group is sharing its vision for the Somass Mill site and the Dry Creek estuary in Port Alberni before the city announces who the developer will be for the lands.

“We’re hoping that the city will ultimately restore the entire Dry Creek estuary,” said Chris Alemany with the Dry Creek Restoration Group.

The group has released a narrated video.

It would like the city to remove unnatural infilling, much of which is believed to be contaminated and bring the shoreline way back.

“So that sea level rise, climate change, flooding impacts, all of that can be mitigated,” said Alemany.

The city bought the waterfront 30-hectare Somass Mill lands in 2021 for $5.3 million.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions says, in close consultation with two First Nations, the city has its own vision for these lands.

“We are looking to likely sell the lands to a developer to have that site redeveloped into something that will really contribute positively to both the lifestyle and to the economy of our communities,” said Minions.

She says that would include a mixed-use residential commercial site, with possible light industrial use as well. The developer will be named later this week.

Minions says sea level rise, floodplain and tsunami considerations have been analyzed, and while some of the lands would need to be built up, most of it exceeds the highest sea level rise projection.

“Part of our concept plan is to restore Dry Creek to its original location, so that has some renaturalizing aspects, but the site overall we expect to be a development site,” said Minions.

Alemany believes developing the lands in the middle of a floodplain would be irresponsible.

“We have to be really careful about where we’re developing, especially when we’re in a sea level rise, climate change extreme weather kind of situation on the water,” said Alemany.

Minions says the public will get opportunities to help shape the development as it proceeds.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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