Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Troika set to investigate Watson Island options

The City of Prince Rupert may finally be off the hook when it comes to maintenance costs for the Watson Island file. In a press release issued on Wednesday the City announced that a trio of local groups have expressed a combined interest in the moribund pulp mill lands a move which will bring together two local First Nations and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

While they investigate the possibilities and conduct their due diligence the Metlakatla Development Corporation, Lax Kw'alaams band and the Port Authority will reportedly pick up the maintenance costs of the site, a prospect that will be well received by Prince Rupert city council, relieving them of the burden spending any more money on the site.

Earlier this week in the Northern View, Councillor Sheila Gordon Payne recently estimated that the City has paid close to two million dollars in maintenance costs of the site.

The trio will take on the costs in exchange for exclusivity in the process of acquisition of the industrial site on the outskirts of the city. The feasibility study and due diligence is anticipated to take between six months to a year to conclude, and when that process is complete the trio may have a different impression of the worth of the lands compared to the city's hopeful asking price of thirteen million dollars.

Employment prospects for the region and port logistics appear to be the key element behind the interest in the site from the three local groups, from potential forestry uses of the land, potential energy developments in a wood fired  co gen plant to additional benefits to the container port, the potential uses for the land seem to have many possibilities.

With the one year anniversary of the return of the site to the city fast approaching, the city's continued need to inject money into the site had become one of the major headaches for the current council and one which as Councillor Gordon-Payne pointed out recently still raised red flags.

While that portion of the city's involvement may soon be at an end, there still has been no word on developments regarding the current court case surrounding former owner Sun Wave,  the progress of those sessions between the city's lawyers and those for Sun Wave have yet to be outlined in public and no resolution of the outstanding issues appears to have been made as of yet.

It's unknown how that scenario will impact on any eventual acquisition of the site from the three would be investors. Who no doubt will factor all of the outstanding issues of Watson Island into their final deliberations.

Rupertites will be hopeful that this indeed is the light at the end of the Watson island tunnel, the long journey with its many setbacks has left a sense of resignation for many that the file may never be resolved. With word that the City may be closer to a deal with a legitimate and motivated buyer, the six month to one year waiting period may be just a little bit easier to endure.

Hopefully things will be resolved better than what January brought the community, when a reported six bids all came back as leaving the city wanting, we're not sure that the city's taxpayers and would be electors will take kindly to any more mis-steps when it comes to the seemingly never ending file.

The Northern View provided a good review of today's developments you can find their article here.

Update: The City of Prince Rupert posted their news release to their website on Thursday, the link to it can be found here.

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