Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's ours, now what do we do with it?

As four thirty came and passed on Tuesday, there was no delivery of a cheque of 6.4 million dollars in payment of back taxes from Sun Wave, nor was there any rush of buyers to take over the moribund pulp mill at Watson Island and the surrounding land there.

And with those windows of opportunity closing, the City of Prince Rupert and its beleaguered tax payers become the owners of the industrial site on Watson Island, though what the residents think they have; may not necessarily be what they have to offer for sale.

In an interesting revelation in the Northern View Tuesday night, during the course of the handover to the City, it was revealed that some of the property at Watson Island is still in the hands of Sun Wave, which apparently has paid taxes on some parcels of the land, but not on others.
In effect it would seem cherry picking those areas where they might make money and handing back to the city that section of the industrial site that they no longer wished to be bothered with.

It's an expensive return policy we seem to have inherited, the monthly maintenance and upkeep on the site is estimated at around 100,000 dollars a month, a potential 1.2 million dollar annual charge that will have to come out of the city's already stretched financial portfolio if the property isn't moved in short order.

Then there's the strange arrangement where Sun Wave will still control some portions of the site, which could make for a rather unusual situation for the City trying to sell a property that doesn't include some key areas of the site.

Now that the keys are hanging up on the keyboard at City Hall we can only hope that the oft stated dedication to transparency and accountability will be put in motion, as the City outlines how they will pay for the ongoing maintenance on the site, how if at all, it will impact on taxpayers and what impact Sun Wave's continued control over some of the site will have on potential sale opportunities in the future.

The City heralded its new (if defaulted) acquisition with a short media release which advised that they anticipate "outstanding property tax revenues, as well as other revenue, will be received".

Podunkians can only hope that proves true, and one hopes that it all arrives sooner, rather than later.

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