Port Alice closes arena after not receiving taxes from pulp mill

Port Alice closes arena after not receiving taxes from pulp mill

Photo courtesy Google.

Photo courtesy Google.

With nearly a million dollars in taxes not paid by a pulp mill in Port Alice, the north Island village has decided to shut down its arena for the upcoming winter.

In a release from Acting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bonnie Danyk, the village says Neucel Cellulose Mill did not pay their property taxes that were due July 31 and the mill owes a total of $959,660 in taxes.

Danyk says Port Alice is funding $172,700 of the Doug Bondue Arena budget through tax money and the mill’s share is $120,890.

“The amount spent to date in the arena is $88,584, leaving $97,116 in expenditures to the end of the year,” Danyk stated in the release.

Port Alice says it is in a shortfall of $627,581 due to Neucel’s non-payment of taxes.

Danyk says the village has paid the mill’s portion of school, police, Mount Waddington Regional and Hospital District, B.C. Assessment and Municipal Finance Authority taxes, which comes out to $201,000.

Danyk says the mill’s share is about 70 per cent of the village’s general tax amount of $1,083,801 for 2018.

Port Alice was hit hard in 2015 with the closure of the Neucel mill, which put more than 400 people out of work.

At the time, the product curtailment was supposed to be for six months.

The release says the rink closure is a difficult decision but the arena saw an average of 20 people on the ice per day over the last year.

The village says because of a deadly ammonia leak at a rink in Fernie in Oct. 2017, the Technical Safety Authority has made several orders for the Doug Bondue Arena that adds an estimated $35,000 in costs that it had not budgeted for.

Along with the arena closure, Port Alice is cutting other services including shorter hours at the Community Centre and the rest of Port Alice’s budgets will cut expenses by 15 per cent.

Port Alice council also decided not to fill the vacated CAO position.

Danyk says the village is keeping clean water, sewer, streetlights, garbage, safe roads and the fire department as priority items.

Capital projects including marina improvements and upgrades to the sewer treatment plant will not be affected as they are funded through grants and reserves.

Port Alice Mayor Jan Allen has requested a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan and other provincial ministers on the situation in Port Alice.

A GoFundMe has been set up as an effort to reopen the arena. 



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