The Alberni Inlet (formerly known as Alberni Canal) is a long, narrow inlet that stretches from the Pacific Ocean at Barkley Sound about 40 kilometres (25 mi) inland terminating at Port Alberni. It was named by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza after Pedro de Alberni, Captain of the First Free Company of Volunteers of Catalonia who was appointed in the Spanish fort in Nootka Sound from 1790 to 1792. The inlet includes traditional territories of the Ucluelet, Uchucklesaht, Huu-ay-aht, Hupacasath, and Tseshaht peoples, who are part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council people.
The Alberni harbour is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island at the head of the Alberni Inlet. Canadian Hydrographic Chart #3668 depicts the harbour and inlet. The Alberni Inlet has a width of over 1km, and Panamax size vessels can easily navigate the inlet and harbour. The Port is ice-free at all times and the mild climate enables shipping and marine operations to be carried on throughout the year. There are no bridges or other structures that prohibit passage. Tides are not extreme and the surface is generally calm. Ocean swells do not influence activity in the Port.
The major port facilities are located on the east side at the head of the inlet within the limits of the City of Port Alberni. The Port Alberni Port Authority (PAPA) jurisdiction extends from 2.6kms up the Somass River, southward for approximately 40 kms to the southerly boundary extending from Congreve Island, to Pill Point, and across the norther tip of Tzartus Island. The Port’s boundary covers over 190 kms of shoreline.
PAPA manages over 100 lease and licences, as well as land exchange agreements, which generate upwards of $1.5 million in annual revenues. PAPA manages foreshore leases on behalf of the Federal Crown and Province of British Columbia. The majority of the Port’s foreshore leases are for log storage in the Provincial portion of the harbour. PAPA’s primary log storage lessees include forestry sector corporations such as Western Forest Products, Island Timberlands, Timberwest and Catalyst Paper.
On the uplands fronting the Federal portion of the harbour, PAPA leases land and/or facilities to a variety of marine related businesses in the fields of marine repair, maintenance and retail sales, as well as welding, fabricating and marine ways.
Provincial Head Lease
In 1985 the Port Alberni Port Authority was granted a Head Lease from the Province of BC to provide oversight of the Alberni Inlet and surrounding Bays. In 2019, PAPA and the Province of BC negotiated a surrender of bays in the areas of the Alberni Inlet. These bays encompass the waters of Uchucklesit Inlet, Limestone Bay, Rainy Bay, Sunshine Bay, Useless Inlet, Fatty Basin, Congreve Bay and San Mateo Bay. There are 58 float cabins found in and around the bays of the Alberni Inlet. These float cabins were within the Port Authority’s jurisdiction, but have now reverted back under the umbrella of the Province of BC. There has been a moratorium on new float homes since the early 1980’s.
PAPA is mandated under the Canada Marine Act to establish fair market values for all agreements between PAPA and our tenants. The Port Authority engaged Cunningham & Rivard Appraisals in 2020 to research appropriate land valuations for the four zones within the Port Authority’s jurisdiction. The following rates will apply effective January 1, 2024.
Zone 1 City, area A: $1,006.93/A – Alberni Harbour, Somass to Lone Tree Point-Heavy Industrial
Zone 1 City, area B: $1700.57/A - Alberni Harbour, Somass to Lone Tree Point-commercial
Zone 1 ACRD log storage: $565.00/A – Somass River Estuary-Sewage Lagoons
Zone 2 ACRD log storage: $562.40/A – Lone Tree Point to Macktush
Zone 3 ACRD log storage: $500.45/A – Macktush to Coleman Creek
Zone 4 ACRD log storage: $439.72/A – Coleman Creek to Harbour Boundary
Bank of Canada CPI is added on the annual billing rate on January 1st of each year.
The Port Authority will undergo another extensive land valuation review in 2025, with new lease rates to be applied January 2026. All leases and license of occupation are completely net to the port.
Our team of real estate professionals would be pleased to help you with your leasing enquiries. Please contact our Real Estate department through our web site or call 250-723-5312 ext. 222 and provide the following information:
- Intended use of the port property (business plan or management plan)
- Type and size of property you are looking to lease (i.e. land, water or both)
- Preferred location or zone within the port’s jurisdictions
- Length of term required for the property and date of occupancy (terms are dependant upon intended uses, property location and any planned upgrades)
- Special requests such as proximity to town, highways, fencing, paving, etc.
Riparian consent is required by the upland land owner, a legal survey of the footprint you wish to use, First Nations will be consulted and Navigable Waters notification and application are also included in the process. PAPA will help guide you through the process with our trained professionals.
Warehouse & Docks
The Port Alberni Port Authority has leasing opportunities available for warehousing and paved land with water access.