OUR VIEW: We deserve some clarity in the murky Catalyst sale

We say: Mill sale has been sorely lacking in accountability

Back in 2008, the deepening forestry crisis claimed the Catalyst Paper Elk Falls pulp mill throwing 440 people out of work. It was a devastating blow to Campbell River that then-Catalyst president Richard Garneau called “a sad day.”

Here on the ground, “sad” did not begin to describe the impact of the closure. So, when Catalyst announced this summer that it had sold the mill site to Edmonton developer Harold Jahn there was a huge sigh of relief.

Catalyst CEO Kevin 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.”

And, Jahn said, “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.”

Since then there have been three extensions of the deadline for the $6.8 million deal to close. Catalyst has offered little in the way of an explanation for the delays. In fact, the company seems to have abandoned any semblance of corporate accountability where this community is concerned.

Jahn has been flying under the radar. At one point this fall he announced he would be at the front gates of his re-named “Pacifica Industrial Park” taking job applications, but when jobless workers showed up he was nowhere to be found.

In today’s newspaper we learn that the Jahn has run afoul of the Alberta Ministry of the Environment for his seeming reluctance to deal with contamination issues on an industrial property he owns northeast of Edmonton.  It does not foster confidence in this man.

To make matters worse the City of Campbell River and Rivercorp have been declining to demand explanations about this murky deal.

Considering the hardship this community has had to endure since the pulp mill shut its doors, we deserve better.