Upnit Power Corp goes to court over damaged cement floor

A lawsuit may be at the centre of why dividends haven’t been paid to the city of Alberni for its stake in the Upnit Power Corporation.

A lawsuit may be at the centre of why dividends haven’t been paid to the city for its stake in the Upnit Power Corporation.

Mayor John Douglas, who is the city’s representative on the Upnit board of directors, confirmed that damage to the facility’s cement flooring structure has been an ongoing issue.

But he declined to provide details about the extent of the repairs, how much they’ll cost or what impact it could have.

“It’s the subject of a legal proceeding though so I can’t say more than that,” Douglas said. “You’re going to have to talk to Steven Tatoosh (Hupacasath Chief Councillor).”

Tatoosh didn’t return repeated phone calls by the News’s deadline.

But court documents filed with the  Supreme Court in Vancouver confirm that the Upnit Power Group is suing Pye Construction Ltd. for a breach. The action was filed in 2011.

The matter of Upnit arose during city council’s April 28 meeting.

An audience member asked about the micro hydro facility the city has a partnership in, whether the city is making money on it, and if it is true that no dividend payment has been made to the city.

Douglas, who is the city’s representative on the board, didn’t speak to the matter during the meeting, deferring to city manager Ken Watson.

Watson said that the city had a five per cent stake in the Upnit run-of-river project in China Creek.

The Upnit webpage noted that the Hupacasath First Nation holds a 72 per cent stake; Synex Energy Resources Ltd. owns a 12 per cent share and the Ucluelet First Nation has a 10 per cent share.

The city paid no cash for its stake, and instead provided in-kind contributions such as data, access to the site and some grading work.

The city received two dividends for its share in the project Watson said: a $5,000 dividend in 2007, and a $2,500 dividend in 2008. The money went into the city’s carbon reserve fund.

But Watson confirmed that no dividend had been received lately.

“We know they have an operating debt that they have to pay down so we weren’t expecting an annual dividend,” Watson said.

In an interview with the News, Douglas said the Upnit board of directors met last week but the matter of the city’s dividends wasn’t discussed.





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