The City of Prince Rupert is hoping liquefied natural gas (LNG) will make Watson Island the economic generator it once was.
The city announced on July 16 that it had entered into an exclusivity agreement with Watson Island LNG (WILNG) to repurpose the former pulp mill site for a small LNG export terminal. According to Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem, other offers for Watson Island were entertained but WILNG was ultimately chosen as it “represented the best value” for taxpayers.
“After many months of investigation Council believes the City has found a company with the vision for Watson Island that will bring jobs and a substantial new economy to Prince Rupert,” he said, acknowledging failed attempts in the past to get the former site back on the tax roll.
“We recognize the City has gone down this road before, however, we have never given up on our vision to repurpose Watson Island and get it back on the tax-roll. We are optimistic this project will be an economic generator that will bolster the City and create new jobs in the region.”
WILNG will now perform their due diligence around the creation of an export terminal at the site, with director Ed Neibauer saying talks with those in the region will begin soon.
“We are looking forward to establishing good working relationships with the community, First Nations and regulators to bring the company’s development plans to fruition,” he said.
However, before the land can be sold, the city will need to settle a lawsuit launched by the Watson Island Development Corporation, which includes certificates of pending litigation on the site. Those certificates prevent the city from selling the land.
As well, the city is working to obtain Provincial assistance for the removal of industrial chemicals and is managing a number of other environmentally dangerous substances. Court documents filed by the city indicate the cost to remediate the site could top $50 million.
Look for more on this story in the July 23 issue of the Northern View.