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Developer says Catalyst deal will close Oct. 19

Alberta developer Harold Jahn says his $8.6 million deal to buy the abandoned Catalyst Paper Elk Falls Mill site will close Oct. 19 and he will be on site the following week doing business.

Two sale closure dates, Sept. 5 and 19, were missed since the deal was announced in August, but Jahn says the work of lawyers on both sides of the deal “transferring licences and leases” is just about complete.

Jahn was in Campbell River last weekend and had a brief meet and greet with Mayor Walter Jakeway.

“He didn’t give me any new information,” the mayor said. “I asked him if he owned the land and he said ‘no’ he doesn’t. It’s a very strange deal. It would be nice to know what’s going on.”

Reached on his cell phone, the 42-year-old Edmonton-based businessman said: “I have been meeting with existing tenants and we’re working with 20 or 30 prospective new tenants.”

He said confidentiality agreements prohibit him from elaborating, however, he said a list of new tenants should be on the website of his company, Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals, by Oct. 21.

Jahn said: “A group of us will be at the site during the week of Oct. 22 using former Catalyst offices at the main gate.” He said there will be forms available for prospective employees to fill out and they will be forwarded to lessees. There will also be an “open house” in November, he added.

In August Jahn said he would 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 fabricator and an electric vehicle assembly plant.

“I hope to locate the lithium battery plant in one of the former paper machine buildings,” he told the Mirror this week. “We’ve also met with four or five aquaculture companies and we are talking about converting four clarifier tanks for aquaculture uses.” The tanks are 100 metres in diameter and have a 30-million-litre capacity, he said.

The whole issue of environmental clean-up remains somewhat clouded. The developer originally said Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals would 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.”

This week Jahn said: “Our intent is to use as many of the existing buildings as possible.” He acknowledged that some of the older buildings have asbestos issues and said that lessees planning on doing improvements will be expected to develop remediation work plans … “or we may have to do that.” Regardless, Jahn said he foresees no permitting issues.

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

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