In his closing remarks, outgoing Mayor Mussallem said of Watson Island “what a hell hole it can be” (for an account of the last meeting see: < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … ls-at.html >). That was on Monday. If he had waited until Thursday he would have had even more reason to be discouraged.
WatCo’s court action against the City will no doubt be protracted and complicated, with many twists and turns along the way. The last topic for discussion here was a Court order that the City disclose any written legal advice the council received relating to the exclusivity agreement with WatCo, an unwelcome development no doubt since such information would otherwise be protected by solicitor-client privilege: < More developments in the Watson Island Case >.
Disclosure of such information could be damaging to the City during later stages of the litigation. The order has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into the City’s plans to request an order that the Certificate of Pending Litigation (CPL) be cancelled. The CPL has been preventing the City from completing a sale for an undisclosed price to the shadowy Watson Island LNG Corporation (WILNG), an entity that has no prior history and has talked about building a ‘small LNG plant’ but has provided no details to the public or made any regulatory filings.
A hearing to consider the City’s request was scheduled for November 26-27, but that was cancelled. The City and WatCo agreed to a Consent Order on November 24 to adjourn that matter indefinitely, and also to stay the disclosure order so that the City can request reconsideration by the Court. According to a filing on November 27, the City has proposed hearings on December 10th and 12th to consider those issues.
The City asks that the disclosure order be confined to the time period from when the original written exclusivity agreement expired on November 30, 2012 to January 31, 2014, when the council refused further exclusivity payments from WatCo. Alternatively the City has requested clarification of the order, and in further alternative the City has filed an appeal of the disclosure order, which may not be necessary depending on the outcome of the reconsideration hearing.
What can we make of all of this legal jockeying?
In an October 16 filing the City said that WILNG was prepared to buy Watson Island and has financing in place, but the CPL must be removed before end of December because (para 69):
“If the City’s application is delayed past December 31, 2014 the City risks losing a serious purchaser and will be required to reimburse the $500,000 exclusivity payment, which is used by the City to offset the City’s significant holding costs.”
We now know that the City’s application to remove the CPL will not be heard before WILNG’s deadline. The City said in its’ latest filing that the CPL issue cannot be heard until February at the earliest.
The next month will consequently provide a serious test of the City council’s decision to terminate negotiations with WatCo in February 2014 and subsequently enter into an exclusivity agreement with WILNG.
If WILNG is taken at its’ word, the purchase offer will expire on December 31, the City will refund them $500,000 and the City will be left without a prospective purchaser, other than perhaps WatCo if a settlement of the court case can be reached, the likelihood of which is unknown.
If WILNG extends the December 31 deadline the credibility of the City’s submission that the CPL should be cancelled because it has been causing hardship would be weakened.
Whichever way one looks at it the City is indeed in a situation that fits outgoing Mayor Mussallem’s assessment that Watson Island is a “hell hole”.
As a final note, if the publisher and editor of Northern View can tear themselves away from bashing MLA Jennifer Rice, maybe they could provide some coverage of the Watson Island litigation, a topic that might be of some interest to their readers. Their latest double barreled blast against our rookie MLA is really a bit tiresome, even to someone like me who is not a fan and in fact did not vote for her:
< thenorthernview.com/opinion/283749531.html >
< thenorthernview.com/opinion/283749781.html >
Perhaps in the interests of balanced coverage they might have reported that she succeeded in convincing the government to direct that BC Ferries stop charging disabled people a $30 fee to take their wheelchairs onboard: < northcoastreview.blogspot.ca/201 … id-to.html >. One would hope that a good news story like that would be worth a couple of column inches at least.