A historic mill in western P.E.I. is on the verge of collapsing into the Trout River, polluting it with the potentially toxic materials used to build it.

Leard's Mill

Leard's Mill is built on the Trout River in western P.E.I., and damage from rainstorms has lead to a risk of the structure falling into the river. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Leard's Grist Mill in Coleman, currently owned by the P.E.I. Potato Museum, was built in 1888 and continued operating until 2002.

Local MLA Robert Henderson told the legislature Thursday last fall's heavy rainstorms severely damaged the building. Henderson said there is now a risk it will collapse into the river, which could be a hazard for fish populations.

'We're very concerned we'll wake up one day and find it's in the brook.' - Stanley MacDonald

The Potato Museum has applied twice for $100,000 in government funding to stabilize the structure.

"Regrettably their request was denied," he said.

"Can the minister work with his colleagues responsible for these two programs and attain the necessary funds to avert an environmental catastrophe in the Trout River?"

Plans to restore, open to public

Environment Minister Robert Mitchell said he wasn't aware of the Potato Museum's application, but he will do what he can to avoid any potential hazard.

"Definitely willing to commit to work with the member and any other departments that we may be able to assist with the community and with the group that own the facility, to try to help them get this building in a much-better condition where we don't have to worry about such a catastrophic event," said Mitchell.

Foundation issues at Leard's Mill

The P.E.I. Potato Museum has asked the province for funding to restore the mill's foundation. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Henderson said the Canadian Potato Museum, which is a non-profit organization, is willing to help pay for construction but cannot afford to pay for the repairs alone.

Stanley MacDonald's family had bought the mill and subsequently donated it to the museum.

"We felt it was a very important part, that we would try to support to restore. Part of our mandate is to maintain our local history," said MacDonald, who serves on the museum's board.

"It's a high-risk situation. We're very concerned we'll wake up one day and find it's in the brook."

If the funding comes through for a new foundation, the museum plans to try for more money to restore the mill and open it to the public as an historic exhibit.