Port Alberni

From serving as the site British Columbia’s first-ever export sawmill in 1860, Port Alberni has played host to a strong forest products sector for over 150 years. This regional centre of 18,000 is located on the beautiful Alberni Inlet.


Forestry set its roots in Port Alberni in the 1860s, when the Anderson Mill was established to export lumber to international markets, including ones as far afield as China and Australia. The mill was just the first of many more that would be attracted to Port Alberni thanks to its proximity to rich valleys of trees and easy shipping access.

By the 1960s, local milling, logging, and fishery activities were hitting their stride. In fact, Port Alberni boasted one of the highest per-capita incomes in Canada through the 1970s.

Forestry and Port Alberni: A Shared Past and Future

Port Alberni has a rich heritage, and forestry has been an important part of the town’s development over the years. Underlining how central forestry is to the city’s history, in 1989, Parks Canada designated the steam-powered 1925 McLean Mill as a National Historic Site.

The forest products sector continues to play a major role in Port Alberni today, giving both industry and the community a shared interest in the continued success of local logging and milling activities. With several large mills and a variety of small and mid-sized operations, local forestry activities are responsible for a substantial share of direct and indirect employment, providing the economic opportunities that healthy communities rely on.

The local paper mill owned by Catalyst Paper is the largest employer in Port Alberni providing over 1,600 direct and indirect jobs. The mill was started in 1946 and currently has two paper machines producing directory and coated mechanical printing paper. Minimizing environmental impact is a priority – in fact, 91% of the mill’s operations in 2013 were fueled by carbon-neutral wood waste, a renewable resource.

Community Stewardship

The Alberni Valley Community Forest is giving local residents a direct stake in forest stewardship. Established in 2009 and 100% owned by the City of Port Alberni, it provides value to the community through timber harvesting revenues, conservation, and world-class recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, and biking.

In 2016, $100,000 from the Community Forest flowed into city coffers – with an even larger payment expected next year. All the funds will be placed in the Alberni Valley Community Forest Legacy Fund, with a view to eventually building a new aquatic centre.

Through responsible forest management, preservation, recreation, and economic dividends can all be enjoyed together.

About Forestry Friendly Communities BC

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Forestry Friendly Communities was started in 2016 as a way to celebrate the proud history and rich future of BC’s coast forest sector.  The term “Forestry Friendly” is intended to recognize pride in, and an ongoing commitment to BC’s forestry sector. In fact, the forest sector supports 1 in 16 jobs in BC. It also contributes $12.4 billion to the provincial GDP and injects $2.5 billion in taxes and fees to the three levels of government.

For more than a century, the forest sector has fueled our coastal economy and shaped our communities. Today, people and businesses across BC’s coastal region depend on transportation networks and other services developed for our forest sector. Families are able to earn a living while enjoying a unique West Coast lifestyle.

Forestry Friendly Communities is proudly brought to you by companies and associations working in forestry in coastal BC.