Catalyst Paper Corporation has reported that it completed a multimillion-dollar deal for surplus land holdings in Powell River. And that deal appears to be part of a much larger development slated for the Wildwood area.
Fred Chinn, vice-president and general manager at Catalyst’s Powell River operation, said the company closed the $4.5 million sale on Friday, September 18.
An undisclosed group is behind the purchase and it approached Catalyst last May expressing interest in obtaining the parcel of land that includes Wildwood Bluffs, the area above the bluffs and some waterfront along the opposite side, said Chinn.
The purchased land, which is just under 600 acres, does not include the mill’s fly-ash landfill or area near the dam.
Chinn described the land as company surplus and the deal as a “win-win.”
The land had not previously been used for industrial activity, but had been partially logged. About half of it is included in BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve and it is not connected to any city services, said Chinn.
“We’re always interested in selling any surplus assets that we don’t see any use for and turning them into cash for capital investment in our mills,” said Chinn.
He said he is hopeful Catalyst will invest some of the sale money into the Powell River mill in 2016 to help convert paper machines to produce product that has greater demand. “We’re optimistic that it will pay dividends to us, but there’s never any guarantee.”
Chinn added that the deal will to be good for Powell River in the long term. “If the land gets developed, virtually in any kind of development, it will bring value to the town in either tax base or interest people to come to the area,” he said. “We’re glad to see that it will be potentially put to some use that will bring some value to the community.”
Scott Randolph, City of Powell River's manager of economic development, confirmed that same group who purchased the Catalyst land is also working on a deal with PRSC Limited Partnership, a holding company for the city and Tla'amin (Sliammon) First Nation, for the purchase of additional properties north of the Catalyst land.
Randolph confirmed a deal has been accepted for the PRSC land in Wildwood north to Gibsons Beach, but there are subjects to be removed, he said. Randolph added that the group is also looking at purchasing a parcel of agricultural land across the street from Gibsons Beach.
“We can confirm that there are accepted offers in place with the same party,” said Randolph, but he could not provide any further details on who the purchasers are or what purpose the land will be developed for. “It’s really up to the purchaser to talk if they want to.”