The Watson Island Development Corporation (WatCo) hopes to return the former pulp mill in Prince Rupert to the major economic contributor it once was.
A partnership between Colonial Coal International, Lax Kw’alaams and the Metlakatla First Nations, WatCo reached an agreement to purchase Watson Island for $5.5 million in August 2012. The mill had been sitting abandoned since it shut down in 2001 and was acquired by the City of Prince Rupert in 2009 when SunWave Forest Products failed to pay back-taxes.
WatCo plans to tear down most of the old pulp mill buildings located on the approximately 300-acre island, saving a few buildings and structures such as warehouses and water treatment tanks, to create a logistics and export facility. The plan calls for light industrial and ancillary uses near the entrance, significant bulk storage on the site, bulk liquid storage for products like Canola oil and improvements to an existing concrete dock that can currently handle two Handymax ships at a time. There are also plans for a rail loop around Watson Island to carry the products. Demolition is expected to take 18 months.