The Village of Port Alice has passed a motion to request a letter from Neucel Speciality Cellulose stating there has been demonstrable progress towards start-up.
The recommendation to request the letter was brought forward at the village’s regular council meeting on Dec. 13. by Finance Officer Bonnie Danyk.
“Last December Council agreed to reduce the taxes on Neucel’s Class 4 Industrial property by 25% for 2017 providing that there was a commitment to start up the mill before December 31, 2017,” read Danyk’s report to council, which also states “If the mill failed to start up Neucel agreed that they would pay the Village the amount that was reduced on Jan 1, 2018.”
The village agreed to reduce property taxes for 2017 by 25 per cent from the 2016 taxes of $899,260.00, which was a total reduction of $224,825.00. Neucel paid their reduced property taxes on July 28.
The terms of the agreement state that “In acknowledgement of the Village reducing its property tax, Neucel hereby commits to start up the mill operation by December 31,2017 provided the Village is prepared to accept compliance with “start up” to have been established, if Neucel demonstrates substantial, demonstrable progress towards such startup by that date, even if actual production has not started.”
Neucel recalled 25 workers for a Dec.10 start date. The workers were recalled “to perform maintenance to preserve the mills assets” and “to prepare for a site visit from potential investors” according to a letter sent to employees by Neucel’s Vice President of Human resources, Warren Beatty.
Danyk said once Neucel sends them a letter council can “have a look at it and vote on whether or not they agree – and if they do agree then everything is fine, if not then I’ll be sending them an invoice.”
Neucel has been in a production curtailment since March of 2015. The pulp mill was originally supposed to be shut down for only six months, but the conditions that existed in March (most notably the declining market price for Neucel’s product), continued to exist after the initial sixth-month curtailment and still exist to this day.
– with files from Tyson Whitney