Once the industrial centre for the coastal forest industry, the City of Port Alberni is now in transition - transition to a centre for secondary industry and the service industry. Attractive real estate prices have made Port Alberni a popular retirement centre for those moving from high-cost cities throughout the country. Many years of benefiting from the once lucrative forest industry have provided the community with infrastructure second to none, for a city of like size. Forestry still drives the economy, with a major paper mill and three sawmills.
Although located in the centre of Vancouver Island, Port Alberni is open to the Pacific Ocean via the Alberni Inlet. The city’s deep-sea port welcomes freighters from all over the world, loading forest products for North American and overseas markets.
With the mega-developments confirmed for the west coast communities, Port Alberni is well situated to become the service and supply centre for both Ucluelet and Tofino. Developments such as the new hospital, the Pacific Rim Centre Mall and the Rimrock Gaming Centre are creating jobs and revenue for the Alberni Valley.
Year-round sport fishing, outdoor adventure and hosting sporting tournaments and events are contributing to a growing tourism industry for the Alberni Valley. To address this surge in tourism, Port Alberni is planning a new Visitor Centre and First Nations Transformation Centre, complimenting the popular Heritage Network of attractions already in place. A fully professional community museum, the McLean Mill National Historic site - a lumber camp in the midst of the forest with operating steam sawmill, a steam train excursion, and the Maritime Discovery Centre on the Waterfront are supported by the city in collaboration with the Heritage Commission and three specialized heritage – related societies. The city boasts a strong arts and cultural heritage sector. City of Port Alberni website