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City of Prince Rupert asks court to throw out Watson Island litigation in new filing

Chemicals stored on Watson Island are just one of the reasons the City of Prince Rupert is asking the Supreme Court to lift the Certificates of Pending Litigation from the site. - File photo
Chemicals stored on Watson Island are just one of the reasons the City of Prince Rupert is asking the Supreme Court to lift the Certificates of Pending Litigation from the site.
— image credit: File photo

The City of Prince Rupert is asking the BC Supreme Court to remove the pending litigation related to Watson Island, citing “hardship and inconvenience” from the ongoing legal dispute with Sun Wave Forest Products.

In a Nov. 9 filing with the Supreme Court, the City says the Certificates of Pending Litigation are negatively impacting them in five major ways and that all of the problems have been compounded by “Sun Wave's delay in bringing its various claims and its failure to advance its actions”.

First, the City says the ongoing legal battle is preventing the sale of the site to WatCo for $5 million. Secondly, with the matter still undecided upon, the City is unable to collect property taxes that could be in excess of $1 million per year.

Third, as the owners of Watson Island, the City of Prince Rupert is exposed to “an unreasonable exposure to financial and other liability due to the precarious environmental state of the lands”. In the filing, the City cites an incident this summer in which 5,000 litres of sulphuric acid leaked out with some of it spilling into the marine environment.

“The spill was cleaned up with assistance from the province of BC. The City did everything it was required to do and the province was contacted immediately,” said Prince Rupert mayor Jack Mussallem of the spill.

“The problem was noted and part of the ongoing security on the site is the monitoring of the chemicals that were left... It requires a constant effort.”

Fourth, the City notes that the monthly cost of holding the site is roughly $80,000. Since taking ownership of Watson Island in September, 2009, and not taking into account legal fees and other unpaid liabilities, the City says it has spent more than $400,000. Along with those costs, and as the final point of hardship caused by the ongoing case, the City says it is incurring costs associated with the “administrative time to hold and manage Watson Island”.

The latest filing comes almost three years after the case was launched by Sun Wave Forest Products, which was back on Jan. 19, 2010.

Sun Wave representative Bill Belsey was not immediately available for comment.

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