City of Powell River Council finalizes waterfront development corporation

Corporation’s audits complete

City of Powell River Council has approved Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC) audits for financial years ending December 31, 2019, and July 15, 2020.

At the September 3 council meeting, councillor George Doubt, who is also chair of the city’s finance committee, said this wraps up PRWDC’s business and it ends with the transfer of some cash to the city, plus a significant amount of land, which residents of Powell River will be able to use for their needs in the future.

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“It’s a job well done,” said Doubt.

Mayor Dave Formosa said he wanted to thank directors of the waterfront development corporation: Wayne Brewer, Ann Nelson and Kevin Sigouin, for fostering and managing this company over the years.

“It has provided things like the Millennium Park, and the industrial lands and the beautiful lands at the old golf course, and many other properties that this city gets to enjoy, from now and into the future,” said Formosa. “The seeds are planted and we have opportunities for all kinds of great projects to happen. We can have parks, or industries, or waterfront commercial – there are all kinds of opportunities with the land that are in our possession.

“It’s not always a fun job being a volunteer, especially in these types of community projects where a lot of people have a lot of opinions.”

According to a staff report, on September 5, 2019, council approved dissolution of the waterfront development corporation and assumption of its remaining assets, with audits to be performed, on which council has signed off.

The staff report stated the corporation was established in 2003 by the city for the purpose of facilitating development of the city’s waterfront. In 2006, while developing a joint venture with Tla’amin Nation and Catalyst Paper Corporation, the city decided to use the corporation as its shareholder in what eventually became Powell River – Sliammon – Catalyst Limited Partnership, according to the report.

The partnership had taken ownership of approximately 800 acres of properties considered surplus to Catalyst in return for a $4.5 million secured mortgage. The report stated that goals for the limited partnership were to attract investment in the portfolio of lands for the purposes of diversifying the economy and creating new jobs and revenues.

While under creditor protection in 2012, Catalyst entered into an agreement to sell its shares and retire the mortgage for $3 million, the report states, and the waterfront development corporation paid for a portion of the transaction.

In 2017, Tla’amin directors proposed that shareholders discuss taking ownership of the remaining properties and dissolving the partnership, according to the report. The lands were divided and Tla’amin took 245.6 acres, appraised at $2.17 million. PRWDC took 182 acres, appraised at $2.16 million. Dissolution of the limited partnership was finalized in December 2018.

In May 2019, council decided to purchase the PRWDC lands through a short-term, $1.2 million loan financed by the Municipal Finance Authority, according to the staff report.

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