The PRSC Limited Partnership was formed as a result of one landowner falling upon hard times, and the idea of a “joint venture” being adopted as a solution to that difficulty.
In 2003, Norske Canada, then-owners of the paper mill, were independently approached by the Powell River Regional Economic Development Society (PRREDS) and the Sliammon Development Corporation (SDC) – the intent was to simultaneously acquire waterfront landholdings deemed non-essential to mill operations – and to help the mill survive.
Others had expressed interest in the land, but to their credit Norske Canada saw value in the idea of collaborative solutions. A memorandum of understanding was duly constructed and signed in 2004, two long years of discussions followed, during which Norske Canada became Catalyst Paper Corporation. Finally, in 2006 it was announced that an agreement had been made between the Powell River Waterfront Development Corporation (PRWDC), Catalyst Paper Corporation, and Tees’Kwat Land Holdings (TLH) to form the PRSC Limited Partnership.
The trilateral partnership lasted for eight years, during which several land parcels were sold. The PRSC Limited Partnership was restructured in 2014, when Catalyst removed itself from the equation. Specifically:
From my perspective, the most profound change was the initial sale of 325 hectares of land to the PRSC – without dealing with the timber rights associated with trees growing upon them.
In earlier contracts (in fact there were at least five of them), the company known as “558654 British Columbia Ltd” had granted one-time timber harvest rights to MacMillan Bloedel Limited for “the timber growing on the land as of May 31st, 1998”. These licenses were “grandfathered” and passed from owner to owner, involving Pacifica Papers, Weyerhaeuser, and most recently Island Timberlands.
Imagine that for a moment. You just bought a piece of property. Only you can’t develop it because somebody else owns the trees. You’re not allowed to cut the trees yourself. You don’t know exactly when or how the trees will eventually be cut, or even if the trees will be cut, because the timber licensee may change its mind and simply decide to wait until more favorable market conditions emerge – for it.
You can sell the land, sure, but because that same grandfathered timber license will be attached to the property, your selling price will be lower compared to other properties that are not bound by such encumbrances.
What a deal.
[UPDATE: Dec 2018. The PRSC has dissolved itself. See here]
[UPDATE: Sep 2019. I’ve revised maps to reflect new information. See here]
Click on any thumbnail to start a slide show about the (now-complete) “PRSC land story”…
Here are the land parcels transferred from Catalyst to the newly-formed Powell River-Sliammon-Catalyst (PRSC) Limited Partnership in 2006. Some parcels contain a “foreshore lease” – some of the lands are
submerged. The background Landsat 5 image (from 9 Sept 2006) utilizes bands 4, 5 and 1. This “false-color” combination allows one to readily distinguish between areas of mature forest (dark reddish-brown) and recently harvested or built-up areas.
As part of PRSC’s establishment, lands were set aside for what would eventually become Millennium Park. This was the subject of a referendum in the civic election of 2008. Both parcels were eventually purchased by the City, but the deal was not finalized until 2010, and the timber rights were not obtained until 2015.
In 2009 “Lot A” was subdivided so as to facilitate creation of Upper Millennium Park. Because part of these lands were within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), this required approval of the ALC. Approval was granted in July.
The next development was the sale, in March 2009, of 8 acres for a residential subdivision. This land was not part of the ALR…but unfortunately the “looped road” that was constructed on adjacent “Lot A DL450” was.
10 Feb 2010: “It is with great pleasure that I announce that the City of Powell River has finalized the Millennium Park land acquisition and the parkland now belongs to the citizens of Powell River,” said Mayor Stewart Alsgard.
Also in 2010 was the sale of a 32 acre parcel in Cranberry. The land lay entirely within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) – and continues to be farmed.
In 2010 about 14 acres of Block 56 were sold to neighboring Hatch-a-Bird Farm. As a condition of sale, the remainder of the farm was added to the ALR. The ALC decision is dated 8 March. This information only became available in 2019.
The next big event was, well, really big. Sino Bright School offered to buy the 132 acres of “Lot A DL450” , and Starium Developments offered to buy addiitional properties to the west. These “accepted offers were in place” by 28 September, according to the Peak. The same developer (Starium Developments) purchased almost 600 acres in September, although in this case the seller was Catalyst, not the PRSC.
The Sino Bright application to remove lands from the ALR failed in 2016. Other offers also fell through, the exception being Wildwood Hill, which sold in September of 2016. In 2017 the City purchased Lot A (District Lot 450). The City also acquired Waterfront Lot A to accomodate the planned sewage treatment plant.
After dissolution of the PRSC in 2018, the remaining unsold properties were divided between the two partners. Gibson’s Beach and Waterfront Lot B went to Tla’amin Nation, and the Old Golf Course and lands surrounding Wildwood Sewage Lagoon were acquired by the City.