Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watson Island sale on the table

When it comes to the Industrial lands of Waston Island, it would appear, that as they sale in the Real Estate industry, it's a "buyer's market".

The City has received a bid on its long running quest to relieve itself of the burden of ownership of Watson Island, the one time home for Skeena Cellulose, New Skeena and Sun Wave to name a few and now used for container stuffing and loading, but for the most part an all but abandoned scrap of industrial vista.  

The once thriving pulp mill long ago ceased its operations, leaving the land to be returned to the city over tax issues, languishing with any number of environmental issues and lawsuits to resolve over the years.

Still, hope springs eternal of a sale and the return of some kind of development on the site and to that end comes word from the Northern View, that there is now an offer on the table for the site, all be it with a few caveats, the most important one of course being the end of the never ending lawsuits between the City and Sun Wave that have held the headlines over the last few years.

Should that deal breaker ever find resolution and the conditional offer is accepted, a consortium of the Metlakatla and Lax Kw'alaams bands and two resource companies Colonial Coal , as well as Hillsborough Resources, apparently have plans to develop the site into a bulk shipment terminal and Industrial park.

The sale will provide for a purchase price of 5.5 million dollars, with the City of Prince Rupert to receive 5 million dollars and the District of Port Edward 500,000. For their money the two bands will hold title to the land, while the resource companies will develop and operate the property on a 99 year lease.

The final purchase price is a significant drop in expectations from the City's original asking price of 13 million dollars listed when the property went to tax sale in 2009 and as the Northern view outlines, it's still below the $6.48 million owed to the City of Prince Rupert in back taxes from the former owner Sun Wave Forest Products.

Add on to that, the ongoing cost of the litigation with Sun Wave over those back taxes and other assorted issues and the amount of recovery from sale of the land could even drop lower, a gusher of financial compensation to the city it may not be.

All of of which will be a moot point unless those court challenges come to an end at some point, before the possibility of court costs take what's left from that 5.5 mil.

Until then, the proposed purchase is still just another plan for Watson Island, whether it ever sees the light of day is something that will be of interest to locals who have been following the sagas of Watson Island for decades now.

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