McLean Mill National Historic Site closer to opening

<p>The nearly-completed deck and visitors area at McLean Mill. Submitted photo</p> -

The nearly-completed deck and visitors area at McLean Mill. Submitted photo

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Nearly 500 railway ties have been replaced on the Alberni Pacific Railway, food services are up and running and McLean Mill is a step closer to its official opening day of June 3, McLean Mill Society executive director Deanna Beaudoin said Monday.

Beaudoin was in council chambers to present the society’s income statement and budget comparison for the month of March, as well as a summary of the projects the society has been working on.

She also took the time to address council’s concerns about the mill itself, which will be closed for the 2017 season.

“I thought we could just safely put it to bed,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we’re shutting everything down, we’re just looking at a way to minimize our monthly recurring costs so we don’t have to be wasting any money.”

There is a “significant amount of maintenance” that needs to be done on the mill itself, according to Beaudoin, including a WCB claim that has them halted at the moment. A temporary closure gives the society a little bit of flexibility, as there is still a monthly recurring cost to keep the boiler running.

Beaudoin said her goal is also to provide an in-depth business analysis and discover the true costs of the mill.

“Then we can come to you and say look this is what it actually costs to do a demonstration, this is what our recurring costs are, and then we can have a little bit more ground to stand on,” she said. “Right now I can’t tell you an answer, and that makes me uncomfortable.”

Last Friday, the mill had its railway inspection. She said 497 ties have been replaced, and the society is $3,000 under budget.

“We have about two to three more days of work to remediate the work the inspector identified, and he’s going to be coming back on Friday,” Beaudoin summarized. “Once that’s complete, we’re going to be in business by May.”

The McLean Mill site has 12 private events booked in May, and its official public opening will be June 3.

Although the steam-powered mill will not be running, visitors will still be able to tour it once the mill site is officially open.

“We’re going to be definitely having interpreters throughout the site to take you on an in-depth and invigorating and exciting tour that will be able to see a little bit closer look at how the mill operates,” said Beaudoin. “They will be running tours once we start.”

The mill’s food services are also up and running in the visitors’ centre.

“We had our first public event, we had the Alberni Bowmen out this past weekend,” said Beaudoin.

“They utilized the entire site and we were able to provide food services for them. And we brought in over $1700.”

A new deck in the visitors’ area of the mill site is also nearing completion.

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