Port Alberni, British Columbia

agriculture, tourism, forestry, and shipbuilding. In 1860, the first sawmill in B.C. was constructed in Port Alberni. That was the beginning of significant economic activity from the forest industry in the Alberni Valley that continues to this day. Island Health is technically the largest single employer within the city, but of the 8,500 full time jobs in the Alberni Valley, approximately 2,500 are direct- ly or indirectly related to forestry. Among those businesses, are a paper mill and five saw mills of various sizes, as well as harvesting companies. In partnership with other municipal leaders on the coast, the city is working on a number of forest- ry-related initiatives to help diversify products; creating far higher value out of the harvested fiber. Port Alberni Economic Development Manag- er Pat Deakin explains, “We’re supporting the existing forestry industry and infrastructure by developing a wood biomass, eco-industrial clus- ter. The idea is to take residual wood and waste wood and derive high value from it, making sure there is no waste from any company’s effort. For example, we have a start-up business that will be making oil from cedar saw dust. The oil will be turned over to another company to make torrified (burned at high temperature) wood pellets. The advantage of a torrified pellet is it doesn’t soak up moisture and split like normal wood pellets.” On the aerospace side, Coulson Group of Com- panies in Port Alberni is modifying Boeing 737s and Hercules C130s into firefighting/wildfire sup- pression aircraft. And they have a memorandum of understanding in place with Airbus to modify their C295s for the same purpose. The company is also focusing on infrared and thermal imaging technologies to extend their wildfire suppression efforts over the night. They are the only company PORT ALBERNI, BRITISH COLUMBIA in the world that fights fires 24 hours a day. Port Alberni is home to one of four federal ports on the west coast of Canada. It has the greatest average depth of any Canadian port and is very large by area but small by volume. To take advantage of this tremendous potential, the city is in close partnership with the Port Authority to increase usage. In the works –plans to build Can- ada’s largest trans-shipment hub at Sarita Bay at the mouth of the port. Deakin notes, “In the ocean marine industries, we’re also doing a business plan for a floating dry dock that is badly needed here on the west coast because the two dry docks on Vancouver Island are booked a couple years out, and one of them only takes smaller vessels. So, we’re moving into mid-sized and larger-sized vessels with this dry dock proposal. A private sector company, Canadian Maritime Engineering (CME), has committed $12 million towards the $48 million project.” At the same time, CME is building a 22,000 square foot fabrication shed at that site to ex- pand its business. “We have B.C.’s oldest contin-