Elk Falls developer says he is still a player

Edmonton developer Harold Jahn says he needs until Dec. 31 to complete the $8.6 million deal to purchase the Catalyst pulp mill

Edmonton developer Harold Jahn says he needs until Dec. 31 to complete the $8.6 million deal to purchase the Catalyst pulp mill property.

Catalyst Paper announced Dec. 19 that the sale of its Elk Falls site to Jahn’s company Pacifica Deep Sea Terminals did not close by the Dec. 18 deadline and “the sale agreement has been terminated.”

Regardless, Jahn says he’s still a player.

“Pacifica continues to move forward with the closing process, is ready, willing, and able to close in the coming 10 days,” he told the Mirror on Friday, Dec. 21. “The closing date of Dec. 3 was moved to Dec. 18 between the parties as a result of Catalyst unexpectedly presenting new information regarding the Elk Falls site which needed to be addressed prior to closing by our shareholders, investors and lenders.

“As of today (Dec. 21), we are still awaiting a portion of this data and we believe closing can occur within a few days of it being released by Catalyst. As the Christmas break is upon us, we believe Catalyst and Pacifica can complete the transaction prior to year end.”

Jahn added: “As there is a confidentiality agreement between the two firms, we wish everyone to respect and appreciate we cannot provide any additional information regarding this matter between our firms and will make an official release in the New Year.”

The Edmonton developer insists that “several firms are ready and willing to locate in Pacifica to create jobs for the community of Campbell River.”

Catalyst’s Vice-President of Corporate Responsibility Lyn Brown could not be reached for comment on Jahn’s version of events. Four deadlines for the sale of the 400-acre property had been missed when Catalyst pulled the pin last week. Catalyst said Jahn had given the company “a non-refundable prepayment of a portion of the purchase price and the transaction timeline was extended multiple times up to the ultimate deadline of Dec. 18.”

In terminating the deal, Catalyst CEO Kevin J. Clarke said: “It’s disappointing that this transaction with Pacifica could not be completed even with the extended timeline. This is a fully serviced property in an excellent location and we remain confident that the right fit between site and buyer will be found that will bring new jobs and opportunities to Campbell River. In the meantime, site personnel are maintaining safety, security and environmental requirements and complying with all applicable legislation.”

Last week Campbell River Mayor Walter Jakeway said citizens should not be concerned that the deal collapsed. “This deal was too strange right from the beginning,” he said.

Rivercorp CEO Vic Goodman said the city’s development arm was “working actively with credible parties that are interested in the site for industrial purposes and that would result in the regeneration of the industrial tax base.”

The former pulp and paper site was indefinitely curtailed in 2009 and closed permanently in 2010. It has since been decommissioned with removal of chemicals, process wastes, and key papermaking equipment.  The landfills remain intact as does the wastewater system which continues to operate in preparation for the site’s redevelopment to other industrial uses. The Elk Falls mill began operation in 1952, and at its peak, produced 784,000 tonnes of pulp, paper and kraft paper annually.