The company that owns the Woodfibre site has a tentative agreement to sell the 212 acres (86 hectares) of waterfront land that used to be the site of the pulp mill and company town.
On Tuesday (Jan. 29), Rick Kormendy, Western Forest Products project and site manager, confirmed the timber management and wood-producing company has a tentative agreement on the property near the head of Howe Sound, southwest of Squamish.
“It is subject to some conditions,” Kormendy said.
Environmental remediation is one of them. The property must meet environmental standards before the sale closes, he noted.
As negotiations are ongoing, Kormendy said he was unable to release the name of the company interested in the land or further details on the agreement's conditions. By July, Western Forest Products expects to be closer to cementing the deal, he said, noting the buyer is a client of commercial real estate company Colliers International.
“We won't know 100 per cent for two years,” Kormendy said, noting that's often how long remediation work will take.
The property is listed for sale with real estate company Sotheby's International for $25.5 million. Once the remediation work is completed, Kormendy said the current owners anticipate bagging approximately $17 million.
The potential sale is good news for Squamish, said Squamish Coun. Ron Sander, former manager of the Interfor sawmill. The Woodfibre property is zoned for industrial use, he noted. When the mill was in operation, through property taxes alone it contributed approximately $2 million annual to the municipality, Sander said.
Once a new owner steps in, officials shouldn't automatically expect to receive that level of tax revenue today, Sander said, noting asset assessments will likely be different. Sander declined to speculate on the name of the potential buyer.
“I mentioned to numerous people that [the site] would make a fantastic natural gas loading facility,” Sander said, regarding his hopes for a potential tenant.
Since the Woodfibre mill closed in 2006, Western Forest Products has been seeking to sell excess energy generated by a turbine on Woodfibre Creek to B.C. Hydro. The company holds the water licences on the property. That project is moving forward, Kormendy said.
“We are going to be online selling power in April,” he said.
A 2009 District of Squamish report estimated Woodfibre Creek could generate approximately seven megawatts of power. The report refers to a second project on Mill Creek, which could possibly generate an estimate 10 megawatts of power.
The townsite of Woodfibre was constructed near the mill when it was built in 1912. Mill workers and their families lived there until the 1960s. Former Woodfibre residents staged a reunion in Squamish in the summer of 2011.
In 2008, the pulp mill that operated on the Woodfibre site was dismantled and sold to a company that planned to reassemble it for use in China.