Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Podunk Below the Masthead (Wednesday, April 7, 2010)

The City offers up a response to Bill Belsey over Sun Wave, Real Estate numbers are released for Prince Rupert for the first quarter of 2010 and Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District gains approval from the province to run into deficit, some of the items of interest from the Wednesday news cycle.  

Daily News, front page headline story
CITY RESPONDS TO COMMENTS FROM SUN WAVE REPRESENTATIVE -- The City offers up its interpretations of recent events on the Sun Wave File, responding to recent commentary by Bill Belsey, who is the apparent contact person now for the one time owners of the Watson Island pulp mill. Outlining the details of a press release issued by the city, the Daily provides the city's talking points on the controversial events surrounding the Sun Wave file, including some recent court filings by Sun Wave and a counter filing by the City.

Details on the charges of fraud facing a former Lax Kw'alaams Academy bookkeeper, the charges were the result of the investigation into financial concerns covering a two year period from 2006-2008. The details of the case were first outlined in the Northern View and the Vancouver Province on Tuesday.

Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District receives approval to continue on with some deficit financing for four years, as the Regional District arm of government continues to come to terms with the financial difficulties of its Islands Solid Waste Management system.

The Sports section featured a look at the half marathon set for this weekend, which will feature fifty participants for this years run.

(Daily News Archives for April 7, 2010)

City responds to comments from Sun Wave representative
Bookkeeper charged with fraud
SQCRD will maintain deficit
BC SPCA request funding assurance from City
Victory in the Battle of the Bands 

The Northern View
Prince Rupert real estate numbers looking positive in first quarter -- The Northern View provides the latest statistics on real estate sales in the city as provided by the Northern BC Real Estate Board (see article here)

CFTK TV  7 News
No items of Prince Rupert interest were posted to the CFTK website on Wednesday

CBC News British Columbia, Daybreak North
No new items were posted to the CBC website for Wednesday

Daybreak North is only posting selected items on their website now. The most recently posted items can be found on the archive page for Daybreak North click here

Daily News, front page, headline story
City responds to comments from Sun Wave representative 
By Monica Lamb-Yorski 
The Daily News 
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 

The City has issued a press release in response to comments made by Bill Belsey on behalf of Sun Wave.

Mayor Jack Musssallem said Tuesday that the City of Prince Rupert is still talking to proponents regarding the sale of Watson Island, but he was unwilling to comment on how things are progressing.

 “We are still going with our decision to sell Watson Island,” the mayor said.“When we attain that resolve, then we will have something to say.”

Within minutes of making that statement, a press release arrived from the City regarding comments made by Bill Belsey, as spokesperson for Sun Wave Forest Products, in an article that ran in the Daily News on March 30, 2010.

The press release, dated April 6, 2010, reads as follows:

 “Despite the comments in the Daily News on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 from Bill Belsey, Sun Wave Forest Products’ newest spokesperson, Prince Rupert City Council concluded the offer from Sun Wave Forest Products to re‐acquire Watson Island was inadequate and the offer was rejected on that basis. Other issues of significant concern to the City are as follows:

 “The failure of Sun Wave to re‐open the mill, despite the significant City and employee contributions and efforts to make that happen, has been a huge disappointment to the people of Prince Rupert and the surrounding area.

 “Sun Wave has failed to live up to most of its promises and obligations, contractual or otherwise, with the City. Case in point, Sun Wave had an agreement with the previous Mayor and Council to provide employment at the Watson Island facility in lieu of municipal taxes; the Council of the day even allowed a further one year extension on the tax exemption. Sun Wave failed to fulfilled their side of the bargain, despite all the concessions by others.

 “Subsequently, Sun Wave had numerous opportunities to pay its outstanding property taxes – they didn’t see fit to do that to protect their property.

 Sun Wave most recently had one year to redeem the property after they failed to pay their taxes and the property went to tax sale. Sun Wave elected not to pay the taxes and redeem their property. 

“Sun Wave has left the City with a tremendous liability and created an enormous financial strain. Sun Wave also stated that if they could not pay the outstanding property taxes, interest and penalties, that they would facilitate a smooth transition for its employees to the City of Prince Rupert – they did not live up to that commitment either.Currently, Sun Wave has shown no interest in removing its equipment and substances, including chemicals, in an orderly fashion so that the City can move on with finding new opportunities for the property.

 “This has created an additional and ongoing liability for the City and all its residents, who may end up having to bear the additional responsibility and associated costs.

 “Interestingly, Sun Wave did pay the property taxes on one small piece of property on December 1, 2009, but not those for the mill – the property of greatest importance to the City and its taxpayers.

 “Now Bill Belsey, the newest spokesman for Sun Wave, wants to talk on his client’s behalf.

The question must be asked, what is there to talk about after years of inactivity by Sun Wave?

 “Sun Wave has no further legal rights to the whole of Watson Island, and has demonstrated no concern for the residents of Prince Rupert and the surrounding area.

 “The City, its residents, and its neighbours, continue to watch with interest and concern, the aged condition of the two wood stave water lines that Sun Wave owns, and is not maintaining, and the potential liability that exists the length of those waterlines from Taylor Lake to Watson Island, especially adjacent Highway #16, should one or both of those waterlines fail.

 “Finally Bill Belsey states, referring to Sun Wave Forest Prod,ucts, “together we still may assist the City in coming up with something positive for the area”. The residents of Prince Rupert may not be aware that Sun Wave has launched a legal action against the City challenging the 2009 tax sale, but only after Sun Wave failed to pay its property taxes and failed to redeem the property, and only after Sun Wave’s offer to purchase the property was rejected as inadequate.

 “Should there really be anything of interest remaining for the City to negotiate or discuss with Sun Wave?”

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