City of Powell River Council has dissolved Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC).
At its meeting on Thursday, September 5, council unanimously voted to dissolve the corporation and assume its assets and debts.
According to a staff report, PRWDC was established in 2003 by the city for purposes of facilitating the 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 PRWDC as its shareholder in what eventually became Powell River-Sliammon-Catalyst Limited Partnership (PRSCLP). The staff report states that PRSCLP had taken ownership of approximately 800 acres of properties that were considered surplus to Catalyst’s operations in return for a $4.5 million secured mortgage.
PRWDC became half owner of the properties after Catalyst, under creditor protection, sold its shares and retired the mortgage for $3 million, the staff report states.
In 2017, Tla’amin directors on PRSC Land Developments Ltd. proposed that shareholders take ownership of the remaining properties and dissolve the limited partnership and its managing partner. The dissolution of PRSC was finalized in December 2018 with Tla’amin Nation receiving 245.6 acres of land in the neighbourhood of the nation’s current lands, appraised at $2.17 million. PRWDC received 182 acres of lands appraised at $2.16 million, located in Townsite and Wildwood.
The city passed a resolution in May 2019 to purchase the PRWDC lands for $1,380,000, which was the money owing to First Credit Union for the purchase of the land.
According to the staff report, there is no need to continue to maintain the corporation as the city already has one other dormant corporation, Powell River Power Development Corporation, that it maintains for future use.
At the council meeting, councillor George Doubt said the city would have a small debt for the purchase of the land from PRWDC that would be paid off in five years. After all of the legal and accounting steps have been taken, the city will acquire a residual of about $84,000 remaining on PRWDC’s books.
Mayor Dave Formosa said that on behalf of the residents of Powell River, he wanted to thank all of those who were involved with PRWDC. He said the results of the acquisition of waterfront-area lands have resulted in Millennium Park, the property between Brooks Secondary School and the old incinerator site, property in Wildwood and land from Haul Road to the mill.
“This beautiful waterfront land is all owned by your city,” said Formosa. “Some lands were sold to pay down debt but the city owns 413-some-odd acres of key beautiful lands for future development for industrial, recreational, housing, resource and liquid waste purposes. It’s a huge win.”
Formosa asked that a letter from the city be sent to the remaining members of PRWDC, chair Wayne Brewer, Ann Nelson and Kevin Sigouin, thanking them for their service.
“The wins that came out of that whole process were numerous,” said Formosa “We are ahead, regardless of what people say. We did well and we’re ahead of the game."
Formosa said the property that is owned by the city is worth a lot more than its purchase price.
“I think the biggest win here is that Millennium Park would have all been housing, all of that waterfront from the Haul Road to the campsite would have all been chopped up,” said Formosa. “That’s the people’s land.”
Brewer, who chaired the PRWDC, said he was delighted by council’s initiative.
“Our waterfront development corporation has no assets and some cash of about $84,000, so dissolving it is the natural conclusion,” said Brewer. “It’s a feel-good story for me.”
He said the city is now in a position to carefully plan, with public consultation, what to do with the land assets.
“The community should be excited about where we are going with this,” said Brewer.