Sunday, December 20, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, December 18, 2009

Six bids for Watson Island, reaction to the developments at Prince Rupert Grain and weather related troubles at sea and along the roads, some of the items of note from the Friday news cycle.

Daily News, front page, headline story
SIX OFFERS FOR PURCHASE SUBMITTED FOR WATSON ISLAND SITE-- The Daily News expands on some of the details of the six bids submitted to purchase the Watson Island Industrial site. The senior staff of the city of Prince Rupert are set to examine the bids now, assessing the merits of each before presenting their findings to an "in camera" session for city council to determine the next step in the ongoing debate over the Watson Island site, one which has weighed over the city since the old Skeena pulp mill shut down a number of years ago.

The surprising departure of Prince Rupert Grain's Jeff Burghardt was the topic of another item in the Friday paper, with the Daily focusing on the reaction from Knut Bjorndal of Community Futures of the Pacific Northwest, who highlighted the contributions that Mr. Burhardt made to the community away from his duties at Prince Rupert Grain.

A reduction in Drinking and Driving charges in Prince Rupert was reviewed as well, with the Integrated Road Safety Unit outlining the significant decline over the last three years in impaired related charges.

The Sports section was all about high school basketball, with reviews of the Junior Boys Showcase events of the past week.

(Daily News Archive Articles links for December 18th )

The Northern View
Ship runs aground while preparing to dock at Prince Rupert Grain -- Thursday's wind storm caused no shortage of problems both in the city of Prince Rupert and along the approaches to the harbor (see article here)

CFTK TV 7 News
Freezing Rain Creates Traveller's Nightmare -- Details of the number of travel problems created by Thursdays storm as it moved inland from the coast (see article here)

CBC British Columbia, Daybreak North
Daybreak is on Christmas break, a notice on their website advises that no new items are to be posted to their Daybreak site until January 4, 2010

Daily News, front page, headline story
Six offers to purchase submitted for Watson Island site
By Monica Lamb-Yorski
The Daily News
Friday, December 18, 2009

Mayor Jack Mussallem said the City of Prince Rupert was not surprised it received six proposals from bidders interested in purchasing Watson Island.

Invitation to purchase the 104.5-hectare Watson Island site from the City closed at 4:30 p.m. on December 15.

Mussallem could not comment on any specific proposals, or on whether or not each proposal met the minimum purchase price of $13 million CDN, but said the six proposals will now be “fleshed out”.

“There are some circumstances where some proposals sound better than others, but we will need to get into all the details.”

City senior management and staff will now evaluate the proposals and have been involved with Watson Island since the City acquired it on September 30 upon Sun Wave Forest Products, the previous owners, defaulting on taxes owed.

“Because it is a heavy industrial site, and there are certain ‘subject to conditions’ that come along with the offer, all that needs to be looked at and taken into consideration,” the mayor explained about the review process.

Some of those ‘subject to’ conditions include the things on the site still owned by the previous owner, Sun Wave Forest Products, what the municipality took over and has the right to sell for non-payment of taxes, and aspects of the site that involve the provincial government.

Confident that a sale will go forward, Mussallem said the next step will be an evaluation by staff to look at what each proposal is offering.

From there staff will meet in-camera with the City Council to go over the proposals. There will not be any presentations or public involvement in the review process.

“This is a listing of property for sale, not a show and tell,” said Mussallem, adding that any decisions made on land, legal and labour management are made in-camera.

According to the mayor, those submitting offers to purchase the site have been forward thinking.
He listed a variety of things that can be done at Watson Island including the manufacturing of wood, wood fired co-generation, and the shipping of break bulk and other cargos off the dock.
There is already container stuffing and de-stuffing going on there and the site has access to the railway, dock and the highway.

“People are looking at Watson Island for more than today or tomorrow, but for fifteen or twenty years down the road,” the mayor added. “Both ourselves and the District of Port Edward are interested in what can be developed at Watson Island and what employment opportunities are there.”

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