Cone of silence over Campbell River mill sale

No word on deal that was expected to be concluded Wednesday

With just hours to go before the scheduled closure of the $8.6 million sale of the Catalyst Paper Elk Falls site, a cone of silence smothers efforts to confirm the status of the deal.

Calls Monday and Tuesday to Catalyst Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Responsibility Lyn Brown went unanswered. Calls to the purchaser, Edmonton developer Harold Jahn, owner of Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals Inc., also reached a dead end with his automated answering service declaring that there was “no more room” for voice mail.

At Campbell River city hall there was also no information to be had. City Manager Andy Laidlaw said both he and Rivercorp CEO Vic Goodman “have our ears to the ground, but haven’t heard anything.”

The sale was announced Aug. 16 and was first scheduled to complete by Sept. 5, however, the date came and went with Catalyst scrambling to clear the property of valuable leftovers. At that time, Brown told the Mirror the closing date for the sale had 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.

In August, 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.”

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.

For updates on this story, visit www.campbellrivermirror.com