World’s Largest Burl Moves to Enhance Tourism in Port McNeill

The Port McNeill tourism staff pose in front of the World's Largest Burl landmark on North Vancouver Island.
The World's Largest Burl is a landmark, but recent damage created an opportunity to relocate it. Photo from the Town of Port McNeill.
Locally driven relocation plan enhances community connection and revitalizes downtown area.

Port McNeill, 6, February, 2024: The World’s Largest Burl is on the move, with the Town of Port McNeill creating a new public space closer to the main business and tourist areas to showcase its iconic attraction. The town and local volunteers aim to complete the project prior to the busy 2024 summer tourism season through an investment with Island Coastal Trust.

“We feel that salmon and the burl are what put Port McNeill on the map,” says Lorraine Landry, a 30-year local resident and volunteer “I’ve always been amazed at how many tourists came to see it, and the new location will be more visible to anyone walking through town. Moving it to a new location will bring life back into this piece of Port McNeill’s history.”

The burl has always been a source of great community pride, connecting the community with its deep roots in the forestry industry. Although volunteers maintained the current site on the western entrance to the townsite, it always felt disconnected from the rest of the community. When a recent fire caused damage to this site, the community voiced their commitment to showcase the burl in a more meaningful way. The Town Council voted to move the burl to a new permanent space at the gateway of downtown.

Relocating the burl is a key element of Port McNeill’s tourism attraction plans. Further efforts to revitalize the waterfront and downtown are already underway, with investment through Active Transportation funding and the BC Government’s Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program.

Connecting the new location along the active transportation trails is expected to disperse visitors along the waterfront and towards the museum and local businesses. Because of the infrastructure improvement, the World’s Largest Burl is anticipated to be highlighted as a site of regional interest by both the BC Ale Trail and 4VI.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with the Town of Port McNeill in the World’s Largest Burl Public Space project through the Community Placemaking Program. The Trust will contribute $32,000 which includes $16,000 from 4VI, who have partnered with the Trust to fund projects through the Community Placemaking program. The program provides one-stop funding, up to $50,000 for as much as 100% of project costs, for communities to collaboratively reimagine and revitalize public spaces across the coast.

The trust has previously invested in similar projects, including the Campbellton’s Bridge Viewpoint and the Revitalization of Bamfield’s West Park.

What Leaders are Saying

“A common characteristic among the folks on the North Island is to put in more than you take away.  The volunteers behind our World’s Largest Burl resurrection and relocation exemplify that ideal. This undertaking is a great example of what can be done when hard working people share a vision.” – James Furney, Mayor, Port McNeill

“There are so many things to see and visit in Port McNeill and I admire all the hard work by volunteers to showcase more of this amazing town. I am excited to see the burl move to a place where more people can enjoy it’s natural beauty.” – Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island

“Port McNeill is reimagining how this natural and historic landmark can connect tourists with local businesses. We’re investing in this project to support a community-led initiative that will create a vibrant and inclusive public space in the heart of town.“ – Brodie Guy, CEO, Island Coastal Economic Trust

“This type of volunteer-led initiative highlights Port McNeill’s engaged community and showcases the local support of the town’s revitalization plans. Connecting important tourism attractions with local restaurants, retail stores, and supporting businesses in this manner is a proven strategy that can be replicated in many communities.” – Anthony Everett, President and CEO, 4VI

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our start, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $60 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $333 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,910 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Learn more About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Brenda Johnson
Town of Port McNeill