Thursday, December 17, 2009

With the deadline behind, we wait for an annoucement for Watson Island's future

“I am the most optimistic person in Prince Rupert,” -- Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem outlining for the Northern View, his belief that the end may soon be in sight for the ongoing saga of Watson Island.

The window for bids closed at 4:30 on December 15th and now City staff will use some of the Christmas Holiday period to study each of the reported six bids for purchase of the Watson Island site.

The Northern View provided the most in depth of the local coverage so far on the ongoing quest to sell off the old pulp mill site and perhaps recapture some much needed revenue for the city's coffers. As Shaun Thomas of the weekly paper, managed to wriggle out a bit more detail on the bids than his compatriots at the Daily News, as he posted his article on the bid process by 4pm of the 16th. In his piece, Thomas tallied up a total of six potential new owners for the property, all apparently on board with the purchase price request of at least 13 million dollars. In the article Thomas goes on outline some of the process to come before any announcement can be made (see article here)

As the Daily News arrived on local doorsteps on Wednesday, the most they had to offer at the time was that Dan Rodin had confirmed that more than one offer had been submitted to purchase the site. Thursday's paper did not provide any further information on the bid process or its progress.

Any potential sale of the site would be a great relief to the City, which in addition to hoping to recoup some of that lost tax revenue of the past, is currently on the hook for at least 100,000 dollars a month just to keep the site in a serviceable condition.

Council sat in its last seesion for 2009 on Monday night and City Hall's holiday hours go into effect on December 24th when the civic offices will be closed through until January 3rd.

So one imagines that any preliminary study of the six bids will have to be conducted during the next week. Recommendations will then have to be made to council, and further discussion to follow, though with the holiday schedule and such, one imagines that there won't be much more to hear on the file until we get closer to that first council meeting of 2010 on January 11, 2010.

Due to the requirements of the potential negotiations, none of the details as to the content of the bids, nor the names of the would buyers will be released, while much of the discussion on the fate of the mill will be held in camera.

If the Mayor's optimistic thoughts for Mr. Thomas are correct however, Rupertites may have one of their current financial burdens removed in the new year as well as perhaps having a bit of cash on hand to pay down some debt as well.

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