Monday, September 21, 2009

Consultation before consummation, another seat at the table at Watson Island?

"We could make it pretty miserable for them, but it's not in our best interests to do that. What we want is economic development there that will benefit the whole region," -- John Helin, Chief Counsellor with the Lax Kw'alaams band offering up a few words of caution over the upcoming deadline for Watson Island.

Having watched the pulp mill and industrial lands of Watson Island decay and the value of the infrastructure there decline, The Allied Tsimshian Tribes 0f Lax Kw'alaams and Metlakatla have weighed in on the debate over the future of Prince Rupert's most talked about parcel of industrial land.

With the mill set to be returned to the City of Prince Rupert on September 29th unless a new buyer pops up this week, the First Nations group has issued an advisory that any potential new investors should be prepared to consult with them, perhaps a file that Herb Pond, the former Prince Rupert Mayor and current administrative officer at Lax Kw'alaams might have some knowledge and input for.
The request for consultation is an item of interest for the City of Prince Rupert which is hopeful of turning the site into a financial asset as opposed to it's current status of a liability and perhaps, fingers crossed and all of that, somehow recouping on some of those lost taxes over the years. One imagines that this request for consultation is something that they have built into their contingency plans, now that it seems that all that remains between them and a return of the keys is but seven days.

The Allied Tsimshian Tribes have capsulized quite succinctly some points that many in the region have on their minds over the site, the state of the land and buildings both from a structural and a environmental point of view, no doubt with an eye on how the current condition of the land and surrounding water may impact on traditional activities.

The other point that they have brought up is one that will resonate with all citizens of the region, that being what surprises may come our way if yet another foreign interest should make a successful bid on the operation of the mill site.
Interestingly enough, Monday's developments come on the heels of last week's announcement that Lax Kw'alaams was preparing their own bid with a mystery partner to take over the property at Watson Island, a move that the City suggested was more in the discussion phase than an actual moving document.
The most recent shot across the bow, may be part of that process or part of a larger move to make sure that their interests are protected in any future developments.
In effect, the Allied Tribes of the Tsimshian are asking for some consultation, before any consummation of a finished deal to sell the site to yet another investor.

The Chief Counsellor outlined his thoughts on the ongoing developments at Watson Island as part of an article in the Monday edition of the Vancouver Sun.

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