Tla’amin Nation submits conditional offer to purchase paper mill at ancestral village site

An old Powell River paper mill for sale is on the site of tiskʷat, the former village of the Tla’amin Nation. Now, in a bid to redeem the land, the nation has sent a letter of intent to Paper Excellence, the current owner of the property.

The nation is aware of several other groups interested in purchasing the land, but elected Tla’amin Nation leader Dillon Johnson believes they are the “only” next owners.

“This is an opportunity that has been brewing for six generations, where we can reclaim the site of our ancestral village of tiskʷat,” Johnson said.

“We want to balance the priorities of today, which are restoring the salmon run and addressing some of the environmental issues, but also bringing economic prosperity to the whole region.”

Left to right: Dillon Johnson, Elected Chief of the Tla’amin Nation, John Hackett, Executive Council Member, Erik Blaney, and Drew Blaney, Executive Council Member, at a ceremony in tiskʷat in September 2021, when the factory owners agreed to change the name. of the tiskʷat mill division. (Submitted by Dillon Johnson)

The 121-hectare property, located on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, currently houses the paper mill, decommissioned concrete warships and a landfill.

If successful, Johnson hopes it will soon house a salmon ladder and a green energy facility. The Tla’amin Nation has established a memorandum of understanding with Pacific Hydrogen Canada for a potential green energy project at the site.

Johnson says the nation wants to explore other potential options for areas of the property not currently occupied by industrial facilities, such as parks or forests.

Catalyst Paper’s tiskwat mill produced paper for more than 100 years before being temporarily shut down at the start of the pandemic.

Partial operations resumed in 2021, bringing back 200 of more than 320 workers, but the plant closed indefinitely earlier this year. It went on sale this spring.

Powell River Mayor Dave Formosa told CBC News at the time that he was “shocked” Paper Excellence listed the property after months of discussions between the company, Renewable Hydrogen Canada, and the province.

Formosa said Paper Excellence led him to believe the hydrogen company would be in line to regain ownership.

Graham Kissack, vice president of corporate communications for Paper Excellence, previously told CBC News that the listing was part of the company’s due diligence process and that no firm agreement on the future of the land has been reached. had taken place.

“If someone knocked on your door and wanted to buy your house, you probably wouldn’t turn around and sell it to the first buyer,” he said.

“You’d hire an expert to help you figure out what it’s worth and market it properly.”

The Catalyst Paper Mill in Powell River resumed partial operations in 2021, but the mill closed indefinitely earlier this year and then went on sale this spring. (Submitted by Eldon Haggarty)

Johnson did not specify the amount offered by the Tla’amin Nation. Paper Excellence has not commented on the nation’s offer.

“What we’ve come up with is enough to move the conversation forward,” Johnson said.

The offer is conditional on what it will take to maintain the property due to the aging infrastructure and industrial waste currently on site.

Johnson said undertaking this project can be risky, but he is confident that his country’s partnerships with Pacific Hydrogen Canada, the province and the Government of Canada will support this vision.

“We have been kicked out of our village site for 130 years now and we have an opportunity to get it back,” he said.

“We are deadly serious about our Letter of Intent.”

11:44Tla’amin Nation submits conditional offer to purchase paper mill at ancestral village site

The 300-acre property, owned by Paper Excellence, is located on the site of tiskʷat, the former village of the Tla’amin Nation. Dillon Johnson, an elected council member for the nation, spoke with Rohit Joseph.

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