Like many resource towns, Port Alice has seen its fair share of booms and busts riding its pulp mill.
But when the last owner left millions of dollars worth of hazardous clean-up, plus outstanding municipal tax bills, Mayor Kevin Cameron was fed up.
“If a company comes in, we want to see a contractual performance bond. If you say you’re going to do this or that, you do it or you’ll forgo your performance bond monies,” Cameron said.
Back in 2011 when Neucel was bought by a foreign-owned company and reopened, “times were drastic, and there was a real need for someone from a different marketplace to develop the mill.” Neucel promised millions in renovations and expansions, but less than 10 years later, the company disappeared leaving behind millions of dollars in unpaid bills, and vats of dangerous chemicals.
“In the long run here, it seems like the environmental agreements that we assumed were in place that they would clean up the site are non-valid.”
Cameron is determined that next time it needs to be different.
And there is potential for a next time, he said. Groups have expressed interest in the site. Cameron declined to confirm what type of industry is being considered, but said there are number of possible initiatives that could be established in the old mill.
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