Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mayor Mussallem provides a brief outline of Watson Island status

The topic of Watson Island was addressed at Monday's council session, though in the public forum the overview was rather short, as Mayor Jack Mussallem offered up few details on the break in the relationship between the City of Prince Rupert and the Watson Island Development Corporation.

As part of the Unfinished Business portion of the Monday Council session, the Mayor outlined some of the City's main talking points on their hopes for the Watson Island industrial site.

Advising that the City has clear title to the property and with the support of other parties involved, is  removing of the chemicals and reducing the monthly maintenance costs.

He then reviewed how in recent months, the City had been working with the Watson Island Development Corporation to take over the property and re-development.

Then as a brief passage, one that read as though it were a briefing note from the lawyers, he outlined the latest  state of developments between the two sides regarding the property:

"It's unfortunate that the Watson Island Development Corporation could not complete their arrangement to purchase Watson Island and was never able to obtain a remediation plan approved by the Government of British Columbia. The City of Prince Rupert is now talking with other interested parties about purchasing the property and re-developing it"

He then returned to the theme of the goal of the City to see the property sold, returned to the tax rolls and to create local employment for the region.

Not mentioned in his short statement to Council was any indication of the ongoing legal issues between the two sides and what impact both short and long term that may have on the City's desire to sell the property.

Also not up for review through his statement, was any dollar amount as to what the cost of ongoing maintenance to the City may be (even if reduced as the Mayor suggested), now that the Watson Island Development Corporation no longer sharing that burden.

Those are questions that the members of City Council might have wished to ask on the behalf of the community, but in the case of the Mayor's statement they remained rather silent. With no follow up discussions on the topic, or  any requests for further background or clarification provided during the public session.

For the most part, the brief mention at Council would seem to have been designed to offer up some for of civic acknowledgment of the issue, without having to deliver much actual information outside of the Mayor's statement.

Of course, we will all have to wait to see how, or indeed if,  the Watco court filing proceeds in the weeks and perhaps months to come. Events which may provide some clarity as to whether the Mayor's interpretation of events, or those of Watson Island Development Corporation will be found to be to the  liking of the Court.

That of course could be a process that perhaps will keep the Watson Island file a rather large folder on the Mayor's desk for the foreseeable future.

The Mayor's statement can be viewed from the City's Video Archive, you can find it at the eighteen minute mark.

You can review more on the Watson Island story from our Archive page on the topic.

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