On the shores of the Alberni Inlet, just south of Port Alberni, the former Coulson Manufacturing property is now home to two sawmills.

The original mill onsite was purchased by the SAN Group in 2017 and is used for medium-sized logs. Now, a brand new mill has been built beside it and will turn second and third growth small-diameter logs into lumber products and sent to markets around the world.

“The coast has never experimented in going with the second growth or the small log type fibre, and this is the first kick at it and I’m really excited that this is the way to go,” said Mill Manager Rob Hall.

The first log went through the new mill last Friday.

“Incredible happiness for our guys here who did the work, and for the community but most importantly for Kamal and Suki Sanghera,” said SAN Group Port Alberni General Manager Bruce Molander. “This has been their dream and to see it actually come to pass is very, very cool.”

The Sanghera family has invested $150 million in this and other facilities in Port Alberni, clearly believing in the future of this community and the industry.

“It’s really exciting for Port Alberni and largely because we have felt those ups and downs of the forest industry,” said Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions. “I think there are a lot of people who think the forest industry was decreasing to the point where eventually it would go away.”

The mill’s success depends on a constant supply of fibre to keep the mill running.

“We’re banking on being able to access some of those small log purchases before they’re exported on a ship,” said Hall.

The SAN Group will eventually employ about 250 people in Port Alberni.

Dean Stoltz