One of the conditions attached to the sale of Watson Island to the Watson Island Development Corporation is the settlement of a series of lawsuits brought about by former owners Sun Wave Forest Products against the City of Prince Rupert, and Sun Wave spokesperson Bill Belsey says the company is hoping to see that resolved as quickly as possible.
“The last time we were in court the City wanted the certificates of pending litigation (CPL) lifted and the judge refused because of Sun Wave’s claims that the taxes were not in arrears and, if they were considered in arrears, may have been illegally applied…The City wanted to expedite the court date, but the judge made it clear that he wanted three consecutive days to look at all of the issues involved,” said Belsey, who noted the case may not be heard until the spring.
“To get three consecutive dates is tough with the court system as busy as it is, even trying to get a whole afternoon can be tough.”
Belsey said the company isn’t disputing that taxes were owed, but is disputing when the City says they were due.
“There was a deal in place with Sun Wave, we all agree. Part of that deal was for Mr. Ni to start up the mill, we all agree. Mr. Ni did not start up the mill…Now we are saying that at that time taxes were due, not overdue as the City says but due to be paid. The judge said our claims are not without merit, would not lift the CPL and that it needed to come before the courts,” he explained.
Like others, Belsey said he is waiting on the results of the court case in relation to the possible sale.
“The City can sell Watson Island to anyone they want. The reason we have the CPL is so that the people know it could be sold for $1 or $1 million, but if the court rules in favour of Sun Wave the money paid to the City is lost,” he said.