City talks termination over controversial waterfront lease

The deadline for industrial activity to be present on Lot A is July 1.

One year after the City of Port Alberni signed a 25-year lease with the Port Alberni Port Authority for a controversial waterfront lot, there has been no sign of industry on the site. So one city councillor says it’s time to void the lease.

Last year the port authority, acting as an agent for Canadian Alberni Engineering, signed a 25-year lease for Lots A and B on the former Alberni Plywood site, adjacent to Canal Beach. Part of that lease stated that industrial activity must occur on the lot within one year—and that deadline will be on July 1.

At the June 22 council meeting, Coun. Chris Alemany introduced a notice of motion to provide 90-day notice of termination of the PAPA lease for lots A and B as of July 15, 2015.

Speaking after the meeting, Mayor Mike Ruttan said that the fate of the lease agree-ment will depend upon what PAPA brings to the table before July 1.

“It’s possible that they will bring something to us before July 1 that will be satisfactory to council,” said Ruttan.

“They have come forward with some substantial plans for that site but at this point I’m not at liberty to talk about that.”

The original pre-approved plan was for PAPA to sub-lease the lot to Canadian Alberni Engineering.

However, CAE general manager Steve Dunagan said no lease has been signed yet and that the matter is “being handled at a much higher level.”

CAE is owned by Ontario-based Russell Industries who did not return a call for comment by the News’ press time.

The port authority, which currently holds the lease for waterfront Lot A and B, released a statement stating that “the Port remains focused on securing a tenant for these lots. As always we are working collaboratively with the city to achieve the shared goal.”

The city-PAPA lease agreement states that the industrial or marine commercial enterprise that must occur on the land by July 1, 2015 “does not include log salvage operations similar to those being undertaken on the land prior to the effective date of this lease.”

City manager Ken Watson confirmed that a similar log salvage operation as what is occurring on Lot A now would not be sufficient economic activity to satisfy the lease requirements but “a log sort would be completely different than a log salvage. Different in scope, different in intention.”

Port authority director of public relations and business development Dave McCormick told the News in 2014 that “we have no intention of supporting a log sort. Our primary purpose is to facilitate shipping.”

Any plans for the site other than the pre-approved CAE proposal will have to be approved by council, Watson said.

The next council meeting after the July 1 deadline will be July 13.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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