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Squamish’s One Ocean Expeditions avoids bankruptcy, looks to restructure

Company hopes to resume voyages next June
A cruise ship in Antarctica, an area One Ocean has offered tours to.
A cruise ship in Antarctica, a destination One Ocean has offered tours to.

A Squamish-based company is looking to restructure after a Supreme Court of BC decision went in its favour.

One Ocean Expeditions, which sought creditor protection earlier this year after leases on two of its ships were cancelled, was granted the opportunity to restructure after its proposal was approved by Justice Sandra Wilkinson on Oct. 21

One Ocean said in April that it is roughly $29.5 million in debt.

“The purpose of this proposal is to permit the company to settle payment of its liabilities as at the filing date and to compromise the indebtedness owed to creditors of the company on a fair and equitable basis, so as to enable the company to continue carrying on business in the ordinary course,” the proposal reads. “If the company is able to restructure, it intends to ...operate voyages as early as June, 2021, with voyages initially available for booking in late 2020.”

The proposal includes an option for unsecured creditors to apply what they are owed to the cost of a trip with One Ocean Expeditions should operations resume.

“Creditors who make this election will become ‘prepaid election creditors’ under the proposal and will receive prepaid credit amount equal to either 50% or 100% of their claim depending on each prepaid election creditors’ election, up to a maximum of $100,000. The prepaid credit amount can be applied to up to 50% of the cost of a future voyage,” the approved proposal reads.

One Ocean also plans to create a $600,000 “dividend pool” with $300,000 being made available as soon as possible and the remainder within 12 months of the proposal’s effective date.

“This dividend election pool will be made available directly to eligible unsecured creditors despite and claims of secured creditors,” the proposal reads.

One Ocean is also pursuing litigation of more than $20 million, which, after costs and expenses of pursuing the claims, “shall be paid firstly to secured creditors, and secondly to unsecured creditors, on a pro-rata basis.”

One Ocean director Andrew Prossin declined to comment for this story.

As of November 2019, the Ministry of Labour confirmed that there were 37 complaints against the company with the Employment Standards Branch (ESB). A ministry spokesperson confirmed in an email on Nov. 9, 2020 that, since that 2019 update, the board issued three decisions covering 41 complaints against the company.

In February, the ESB issued a corporate determination that the Employment Standards Act did not apply to 17 employees working on One Ocean vessels, as they did not perform the work in British Columbia.

In April, the ESB determined that the company owed $263,029 in wages and $2,500 in administrative penalties to 24 employees for work performed in British Columbia.

In September, the ESB determined that Prossin is personally liable for $234,078.59 in wages and the full $2,500 in administrative penalties, as, under the Employment Standards Act, a director or officer can be held personally liable for up to two months’ wages.

The spokesperson noted that One Ocean did not appeal either decision and the ESB is attempting to recover the wages on behalf of the employees. In response to a follow-up question asking if any of that money had yet been collected, the spokesperson said the ministry could not provide further comment.

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