Monday, July 15, 2013

Decision delivered on Watson Island court case

There's no official word from City Hall yet, but the Watson Island file seems to be moving forward just a little bit more, with some new developments from the Vancouver court room.

For the City of Prince Rupert and its taxpayers, Thursday delivered at least another step further towards resolution of one of Prince Rupert's longest running stories, that being the fate of the Watson Island industrial lands.

This most recent tale of the many of the past from Watson Island, having stretched back to 2005, when a company named Sun Wave first appeared on the Prince Rupert radar.

The forward momentum on the file comes as the BC Supreme Court issued a decision regarding the current legal issues between Sun Wave and the City.

The lengthy back and forth of legal discussion over the site has stretched back some three years, a land action that was first commenced on January 19th, 2010 and has been one of the most important files that Prince Rupert City Council has had to deal with since and one that has consumed a good portion of Council's time and attention.

It's a process that finally reached the decision stage, with Madam Justice Gropper issuing her findings on Thursday, details of which were posted to the BC Supreme Court website that same afternoon, Madam Justice Gropper's decision can be found here.

For those of us that struggled through Law 12, the reading while fascinating, is a bit of a rough slog, but it would seem that the key points from Madam Justice Gropper's observations would be points 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41.

That is the final analysis section of her review, which addresses the key points of  concern between the two sides.

Still to come it would seem, will be some exploration of costs, damages and associated issues on site, but perhaps with this decision, the end to the saga is drawing closer and the prospect of finally turning the page on Watson Island may soon be upon us.

A helpful Cole's Notes version of the decision released on Thursday can be found on a local chat portal, a short and succinct review which appears to offer up a thumbnail sketch of what it all may mean.

For most Rupertites (your author included), digesting the pages of judicial process probably is a bit taxing and for the most part, the main issue for local taxpayers is probably not the parsing of a legal decision, but rather finding out when the Watson Island drama will finally be behind us.

So towards that hopeful moment and with the announcement of last week now delivered, the ball now moves to the City's court.

The decision from the Supreme Court provides the City opportunity for comment and to offer up an advisory as to what's ahead and how much longer the Watson Island site will remain in limbo. (maybe sharing the total cost of all of this so far, might be helpful towards background for residents as well)

Thursday's decision also provides the City the chance to revisit the much discussed redevelopment  options for the site and advise as to how close we may be to some movement on that plan.

For those who may have forgotten, at one time a group working under the name of Watco, had some major plans for development of that site, progress of which has been delayed while the court case has wandered along its path.

With the July 29th Council meeting now cancelled, the first opportunity for Council as a whole to discuss the latest developments won't be available until August 19th when Council next holds a session.

Though it would seem that if they wish, the City could provide some talking points for the public to mull over until that next August Council session.

Considering this alarming headline of April, one imagines an update from the Mayor on the latest developments would be a welcome thing.

You can retrace many of the past items of note on the Watson Island drama from our archive page.

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