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Catalyst mill sale delayed

The $8.6 million sale of the Catalyst Paper Elk Falls site to Edmonton developer Harold Jahn, owner of Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals Inc., has been delayed.

The sale, announced with great fanfare Aug. 16, was scheduled to be complete on Wednesday, Sept. 5, however, the date came and went with Catalyst still scrambling to clear the property of valuable leftovers.

Lyn Brown, Catalyst Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Responsibility, told the Mirror the closing date for the sale has been extended to Sept. 19.

“The Sept. 5 date was very aggressive, more optimistic than time allowed to complete site preparation work,” Brown said.

“This should in no way suggest the sale process won’t be completed,” she added.

Those site preparations include removal of rolling stock and surplus equipment that Catalyst can reuse at other locations.

Jahn could not be reached for comment.

Two weeks ago Catalyst CEO Kevin J. Clarke described Jahn as “an experienced developer with the capacity and an industrial concept that will fully utilize the site’s infrastructure and bring new business and jobs to the region.”

At the time Jahn said:

“The site is strategically located to serve a variety of marine, light manufacturing, clean energy and distribution uses and we intend to transform it into a dynamic industrial park and port facility with the goal of creating 400 full time jobs in the Campbell River region over the next three years.”

The former pulp and paper plant was closed permanently in 2010.

Since then, equipment has been decommissioned and demolition work has proceeded to prepare the site for sale.

The Elk Falls mill began operation in 1952, and at its peak, produced 784,000 tonnes of pulp, paper and kraft paper annually.

Jahn’s stated plan is to bring some of his existing companies to the new “industrial park” including a developer of algae based solar cells, a lithium battery manufacturing facility, an ocean wave energy equipment fabrication and an electric vehicle assembly plant.

The Edmonton developer has also told the Mirror that Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals will accept “all environmental liability” for the 400-acre site.

That assurance came after the Mirror obtained a memo written by BC environment ministry senior contaminated sites officer Vincent Hanemayer which states that “the Elk Falls Mill has been identified as a contaminated site by the ministry and prior to redevelopment contamination would have to be assessed and addressed.”

City Manager Andy Laidlaw has said he has no information about specific contaminates, but confirmed that Jahn will have to get provincial sign off before any development permits can be issued.

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