The City of Cranbrook purchased 100 acres of industrial land formerly owned by Tembec in 2018. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.

City of Cranbrook proposing sale of former Tembec Lands for $6M

The City of Cranbrook is proposing to sell the former Tembec industrial lands for $6 million.

The proposed sale — to Peak Cranbrook Properties Ltd — includes 100 acres of industrial property and all associated buildings, structures and assets with the land, which the city acquired two years ago.

Brian Fehr is listed as a director with Peak Cranbrook Properties Ltd, which was incorporated this past August and has a registered address in Canal Flats. He is the founder of Peak Renewables, a company that converts wood fibre into industrial wood pellets for use in power plants and international markets.

Fehr is also the chairman of the board for Smartlam, which manufactures Cross Laminated Timber for sustainable green buildings, according to the company website.

He has spent a lifetime in the forestry sector, building up a billion dollar group of companies through BID Group, which pursued innovative concepts such as applying artificial intelligence to manufacturing and transforming maintenance practices.

Fehr was involved in the purchase of the former Canfor facility in Canal Flats, which was transformed from a forestry saw mill into the Columbia Lake Technology Centre. The centre has partnered with PodTech — a company that manufactures specialized and highly efficient data servers — and has a number of other ongoing investment opportunities.

The former Tembec lands in Cranbrook were purchased by the city in 2018 for $3 million, after sitting empty and unused for many years. The property formerly housed a Tembec sawmill operation.

At the time of the city’s purchase, Mayor Lee Pratt touted the move a way to generate economic activity, with plans to subdivide the property and leasing out sections to interested parties in order to generate income in perpetuity.

City will pay $3 million for Tembec land: Mayor

Two years ago, C&C Wood Products leased a section of property, taking over and retrofitting a former Tembec finger-joint plant that remained on site and producing wood trim and siding that created 40 local jobs.

C&C Wood Products was first incorporated in 1977, and became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Callidus Capital Corporation on January 31, 2019.

However, C&C Wood Products, along with Westside Logging Ltd — a wholly-owned subsidiary of C&C Wood Products — filed for bankruptcy on June 2, 2020, with PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc. appointed the trustee of all assets by the BC Supreme Court three days later.

Despite an attempt to restructure and pursuing strategic alternatives, efforts to create a cash-flow positive operation were unsuccessful, according to the bankruptcy filings.

The Cranbrook facility was put on care and maintenance as part of wind-down operations in January, while another facility in Quesnel was shut down in May.

The BC Supreme Court approved the sale of C&C Wood Product assets to Peak Renewables Ltd. in September.

Since the city’s purchase of the former Tembec Lands two years ago, a number of efforts have been underway to get the property ‘investment-ready’ for prospective companies and entrepreneurs.

For example, a trio of contracts were awarded last summer to undertake a site investigation that would produce a plan to address environmental issues on the land, while other contracts involved a transportation network study, as well as a geotechnical and hydrological assessment.

Those three contracts came out to approximately $529,000.

During budget deliberations last year, the city approved a plan to install deep and shallow utilities on the property budgeted at $5.25 million. However, those plans were shelved as a response to mitigating financial impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.