City council approved a motion to expropriate a fee simple interest in land on Watson Island. The two portions of Lot 4 are marked with a white arrow.

City approves motion to expropriate land on Watson Island

Cost of land and how purchase will proceed with be presented in the future

  • Jul. 25, 2017 8:00 a.m.

Prince Rupert city council unanimously approved a motion to expropriate a fee simple interest in land on Watson Island.

Expropriation means the forced purchase of land by a public authority from a private owner.

The land, identified as Lot 4, is comprised of two portions totalling approximately 13 acres and currently belongs to Sun Wave Forest Products.

A report prepared by Robert Long, city manager, refers to Watson Island as the “holy trinity of trade,” with rail, road and waterfront access. Acquiring the lot from Sun Wave will allow the city to have complete ownership of Watson Island.

Acting City Manager, Corrine Bomben, read a prepared statement outlining how the expropriation of the land, in conjunction with the city’s vision for putting Watson Island back to use as an industrial site would help to replace lost tax revenues, which the city has operated without since the closure of the mill. The city would look to lease lots on the island, instead of selling the property.

The option to lease the lot from Sun Wave, as an alternative to expropriation of a fee simple interest, was not considered given the city’s history with the company. In 2013, a protracted legal battle ended when the city and Sun Wave reached an out of court settlement, which gave the city clear title to approximately 230 acres of the island.

The city served Sun Wave with a notice of expropriation in April 2017 and in May the company served the city with a Notice of Request for Inquiry, alleging that the city’s proposed expropriation was not necessary for the city to achieve its goals. Per the legislation, an inquiry officer was appointed by the attorney general and minister of justice.

A public hearing was held in Vancouver on June 13, 28 and 29 where representatives of Sun Wave and the city presented their cases. The inquiry officer recommended the expropriation be approved saying, “I am unable to find that these [the city’s] objectives can be better achieved through an alternative site or by varying the amount of land to be taken.”

Council approved a motion to accept the recommendation of the inquiry officer unanimously.

Council also approved a motion to exclude a statutory right of way owned by Pacific Northern Gas.

“Having gas on the island is preferable, so the expropriation notice should be amended to exclude the PNG right of way,” Bomben said.

The council asked no questions in approving the motions. The land will be purchased at the fair market value assessed by an appraiser.

The costs and how the city will purchase the land will be presented to council at an open session in the future.

The island was used a pulp mill from 1955 until 2001 and served as the largest employer in Prince Rupert. After the mill closed, jobs were lost, people left and the city lost a significant amount of tax revenue.

Sun Wave Forest Products purchased the island and pulp mill assets with a promise to restart and operate the pulp mill again but those plans never came to fruition.

Sun Wave failed to pay its taxes on the land and because there were no purchasers during a tax sale, the city became the involuntary owner of all the parcels on Watson Island, except Lot 4, the land to be expropriated.

Niesh wants city to look into clearing derelict cars.

Councillor Wade Niesh asked city staff to look into measures to begin clearing abandoned vehicles from the city.

“What I would like from the city staff is to look into what the cost would be to bring a crusher in,” he said, adding that he’d like to see the city work with towing companies to dispose of vehicles.

Corrine Bomben, acting city manager said a report is forthcoming.

City of Prince Rupert

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

An election tussle has now erupted over the long-dismantled Skeena Cellulose pulp mill on Watson Island, shown here in a 2013 photo. (File photo The Northern View)
Wilkinson, Horgan tagged over pulp mill file and legal battle

Case dates back to attempt to re-open closed Skeena Celluose pulp mill

ANBT 2021 is still in the planning, Peter Haugan event organizer said on Oct. 13. In the 2020 ANBT, Hydaburg’s T.J. Young drives along the baseline against Prince Rupert’s Brady Johnston. Hydaburg would defeat P.R, but fell to New Aiyansh in the next round. (The Northern View file photo)
All Native Basketball Tournament 2021 still in the planning

“If we cannot run it with our fans, we cannot run the tournament” - Peter Haugan

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Steven Helin and Kayla Robinson lost everything they owned in a fire in Prince Rupert downtown core on Oct. 5 affecting three businesses and more than 10 rental units. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Aftermath of building fire

Flames of ruined hope

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Most Read