The San Group, a Canadian-based forest products company, and Pacific Mayfair Estates jointly announced that they are planning to develop a 73-acre property near the east end of Burde Street that would, if approved, create more than 2000 energy efficient housing units.
San Group owner Kamal Sanghara pointed out that there is a shortage of affordable homes in Port Alberni.
“People are leaving the community – we’re trying to bring families back,” he said.
The Burde Street property encompasses a pair of beaver ponds, which will be preserved and protected with a buffer area. The property runs north, neighboring the West Coast General Hospital.
The San Group has been investing in Port Alberni for a few years, buying mills, expanding operations, and creating jobs.
“San Group is here to stay,” said Sanghara adding that they envision building a city within a city with the new development.
Sanghara said the new development would be a green one with a price tag approaching $1.1 billion over five to eight years.
It would be a space supporting multiple generations, accommodating families and seniors’ facilities. Plans feature at least five hi-rise apartment buildings up to ten stories tall, town houses and single-family homes. It will feature green spaces, gardens and walking trails.
Sanghara said the new development could expand Port Alberni’s housing inventory by 25 per cent.
The proponents are seeking support for the project from local, provincial and federal governments. A rezoning application has been submitted to the city.
Mike Ruttan, San Group director of Media Relations, said that the proposed development would run five to eight years and would create thousands of jobs in construction, trades and other areas. In addition, the wood supply for construction would come from local mills, creating more jobs there.
Tseshaht Chief Councillor Ken Watts is optimistic.
“I know the San Group will make sure that the waterways and territories are looked after because it’s sacred to our people, but more importantly from an economic standpoint we’re hoping that Tseshaht can be a part of this somehow.”
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said this could be an exciting new investment in Port Alberni and she thanked San Group for continued investments they make in the city.
“I’m excited to see the vision that recognizes community values,” she said, noting that existing trails will be preserved and expanded.
Former Port Alberni mayor Ken McRae recalled the city’s heyday when the forestry and fishing industries were booming and more than 20,000 people lived in the city. Port Alberni’s population was 17,678 when it was last counted in the 2016 census,
“It is good for our community – Everyone’s talking about Port Alberni and that has a lot to do with what San Group is doing here,” said McRae.
If approved, construction could begin in 2022.
“It’s good for our new generations – the kids coming up, it will give them a reason to stay in Port Alberni,” added McRae.