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Port Alberni received 16 responses to a request for expressions of interest to develop the site of the 43-acre former Somass Division sawmill

Port Alberni received 16 responses to a request for expressions of interest to develop the 43-acre former Somass Division sawmill site or pitch business ideas that would fit with the waterfront site’s “transformative” vision.

Half of the responses came from developers wanting to support the entire site, while the rest came from operators and businesses with ideas for a smaller part.

The city issued the call for expressions of interest in September. The opportunity to respond closed on Friday.

Port Alberni purchased five parcels of former industrial land in August 2021 to develop them and add vitality to the town as well as jobs and opportunity. The centerpiece is the mill and its adjoining parking lot.

Scott Smith, director of development services, said Monday that the responses reflected “pretty strong interest.”

The city plans to evaluate the submissions and notify the city council. A request for qualification should be issued before the end of the year.

The plans call for a public park, seawall, commercial space, light industrial uses and a diversity of housing. The site should serve as a meeting place for the community.