Neucel Specialty Cellulose’s “curtailment” is continuing on the same way it has since 2015.
The pulp mill, which is owned by the Canadian arm of a Chinese company called Fulida, also still hasn’t paid its taxes, which were due back in July of 2018, totalling around a million bucks.
I’ve heard from various people around town that the village has had some informal meetings with the company recently, but it seems likely there won’t be any monies coming in anytime soon.
The company is, however, currently paying interest on the taxes, around $200 a day, so that’s at least some indication they haven’t thrown in the towel yet.
So what can be done to fix this problem and get them to pay up?
That’s a good question, and one I’m not too sure of how to answer.
From what I’ve been told, the mill property is the same as any other property when it comes to unpaid taxes.
If the taxes continue to go unpaid, then the current taxes become arrears the following year. If the arrears continue to go unpaid, then they become delinquent the next year. Properties with unpaid delinquent taxes are then sold at a tax sale on the last Monday of September.
Here it is in an easy to understand format.
2018: current, 2019: arrears, 2020: delinquent, September 2020: tax sale.
So theoretically, by the timeline above, the mill could be up for sale in 2020.
With that said, who would want to buy it?
The mill is over 100 years old, and from what I’ve heard from various people, is in pretty rough shape from sitting idle since the curtailment started back in 2015.
This is really an unfortunate situation for the Village of Port Alice, and the North Island in general, as a lot of people from all over the Tri-Port were making good money there.
I worked at the mill in the machine room as a summer student back in the late 2000’s, and the money I earned that summer helped pay for my books, tuition, and some living expenses.
With amenities in the village shutting down left and right and hours being cut back for the remaining businesses and places like the health office, it’s looking grim.
So is there a solution in sight?
You tell me, I’d rather hear from North Island residents what they think should be done about Neucel.
Tyson Whitney is an award-winning journalist who was born and raised in Port Hardy.
His family has lived in Port Hardy for more than 40 years. He graduated with a degree in writing from Vancouver Island University in 2008. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org