Mar 5/18 City of Prince Rupert gains complete ownership of Watson Island

A ruling from the Supreme Court of BC is allowing the city to expropriate the Lot 4 from Sun Wave

Sun Wave Forest Product’s final piece of Watson Island will be expropriated to the City of Prince Rupert.

On Feb. 23, Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck ruled in the city’s favour, finally putting the last piece of Watson Island — approximately 14 acres — into the city’s hands.

City council unanimously approved a motion to expropriate the lot on Watson Island on July 25, 2017. This came years after a lengthy legal battle between the city and Sun Wave.

Sun Wave Forest Products Ltd. promised to restart and operate the former pulp mill when it purchased Watson Island but never did. When the company failed to pay its taxes on the land, the City of Prince Rupert was forced to burden those costs and became the unwilling owner of most of the land — except for Lot 4.

In 2009, the city seized the property in lieu of unpaid taxes — billed retroactively to when Sun Wave failed to re-open the pulp mill.

In 2013, when the two parties reached an out of court settlement the city was given clear title to approximately 230 acres of the island. Once the city owns Lot 4, it will have complete ownership of Watson Island.

READ MORE: City approves motion to expropriate land on Watson Island

In a civil claim filed in the Vancouver registry, Sun Wave sought to prevent the petitioner, the City of Prince Rupert, from pursuing the expropriation notice. In his reasons for judgment, Justice Affleck wrote that civil action cannot bar the expropriation concluding that the city “is entitled to the order it seeks.”

In November 2017, Pembina announced its plans to build a propane terminal on Watson Island, and tax revenues from the leased lot would go back to the city — the first revenue Prince Rupert will see from the land in years.