Project Title:

Putting The Alberni Pacific Railway Back On Its Tracks For Tourism

Project Organization:

Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society

Project Investment:

  • Island Coastal Economic Trust: $20,000
  • Total Budget: $50,000

Project Highlight:

Strategic plan explores the community-wide benefits of restoring the Alberni Pacific Railway to Mclean Mill National Historic Site.

Train image courtesy Lyndon Cassel Photography.

Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society is a not-for-profit organization spearheading an initiative to reactivate the Alberni Pacific Railway to Mclean Mill. Although it is an important element of the Alberni Valley’s industrial heritage, the train ceased operations in 2018. Its revival is an opportunity to transform a historical railway into a catalyst for economic revitalization.

The restoration of the railway could enhance local tourism, create exciting job opportunities, and increase visitation to the Mclean Mill National Historic Site.

The Strategic Plan to Operate the Alberni Pacific Railway to Mclean Mill project has three main objectives:

  • Conduct research to identify benefits and relevant metrics for success
  • Create an inclusive engagement plan
  • Evaluate demand for the proposed project

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing $20,000 with the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society, through the Investment Readiness Program, towards the Strategic Plan to Operate the Alberni Pacific Railway to Mclean Mill. This project will create positive impact focused on Cultural and Nature Based Tourism.

The Trust has previously invested in similar projects with widespread community collaboration, including the Alberni-Clayoquot Region’s Strategic Recovery Plan to Reveal Economic Priorities and Analysis of Opportunities for Electrical Back Up on the North Island.

Strengthening Community Wellbeing:

The long-term vision for restoring the Alberni Pacific Railway to Mclean Mill National Historic Site is to revive the railway and transform it into a sustainable, educational, and culturally enriching asset for the community. By developing a comprehensive business case, Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society aims to demonstrate how the project can benefit the community.

Economic Prosperity: A consultant will develop a strategic plan for the Alberni Pacific Railway’s operation. This comprehensive business case will not only assess the infrastructure and funding strategies but also analyze the project’s feasibility, economic impact, and potential to enhance the region’s tourism sector.

The reactivated railway could diversify the economy, stimulate new businesses, encourage partnerships, and amplify revenue, tapping into the traffic of one million visitors that drive through Port Alberni annually.

Social Empowerment: This project represents a collaborative opportunity for the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society and its community partners. The project garnered widespread support through strategy meetings with community partners. Notable backers include the Hupačasath and Tseshaht First Nations, the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District, and City of Port Alberni, Chamber of Commerce and the Island Corridor Foundation, and several tourism organizations.

The business case and operation plan will involve community residents, First Nations, businesses, and various stakeholders in the train operation.

Cultural Vitality: The railway, as an industrial heritage site, is envisioned to be an educational tool that deepens understanding of the region’s industrial history. It aims to instill community pride and offer interactive learning experiences for schools and community groups.

What Leaders are saying:

“The funding of this project will help us deliver a sustainable railway experience that not only links Port Alberni to the Historic McLean Mill National Historic Site, but also brings together the heritage, culture and all of the community.” – Ron Corbeil, President, Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society

“The Alberni Pacific Railway is an important piece of local history and maintains a connection to our industrial past,” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. “This work by the Island Coastal Economic Trust alongside the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society to restore and showcase the railway will help transform it into a new attraction and educational opportunity for the community for years to come.” – Hon. Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim.

“We invested in the initiative to revive the Alberni Pacific Railway, led by the Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society, because it emphasized the value of collaboration. They’ve committed to ensuring this heritage attraction empowers their entire community.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust.

Media Contacts:

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust
jeff@islandcoastaltrust.ca
250-871-7797

Ron Corbeil
President
Western Vancouver Island Industrial Heritage Society
rmcorbeil@telus.net
250-723-4285

Island Coastal Economic Trust funded this project on 2024 through the Investment Readiness program.