Commonwealth Campus Corp. plans to put up a fight against foreclosure proceedings Northern Development Initiative Trust has launched over the loan provided for assembling a block of downtown land.
In a response to NDIT's petition, filed Tuesday at the Prince George courthouse, Commonwealth contends there is a "bona fide triable issue" as to whether the mortgage and security agreement are valid and, alternately whether the loan is in default in light of alleged "breaches of duties, contractual, fiduciary and otherwise," by NDIT.
Allegations of negotiating in bad faith have swirled around the effort to secure land for the provincial government's proposed Wood Innovation and Design Centre, tentatively slated for the old Prince George Hotel property on George Street.
A contract for building the structure is expected to be awarded within the next few weeks.
Also on Tuesday, NDIT filed a notice of hearing asking that a B.C. Supreme Court master consider its petition on April 8 and suggests that while NDIT will require five minutes, Commonwealth will need 90 minutes to state its position.
Commonwealth president Dan McLaren said Wednesday he is aware of the notice and while he declined to provide details of Commonwealth's case, he did say the company is "ready, willing and able to vigorously defend our position."
"We are looking forward to making all of the facts clear, open and public," McLaren added.
NDIT CEO Janine North said: "We're looking forward to seeing the foreclosure process run its course and recover the funds owed to the Trust for the communities we serve."
As of April 8, the amount at issue will stand at nearly $1.5 million, according to a requisition filed by NDIT. Interest on the loan is 6.8 per cent compounded monthly, working out to $278 per day by that time.
NDIT had loaned Commonwealth Campus $2.9 million in total and half had been paid back when foreclosure proceedings were first initiated in November.
McLaren has maintained Commonwealth was close to finding a buyer for land adjacent to the WIDC site when the foreclosure began, although NDIT officials have said an extra month was given to pay off the loan, which was due Oct. 31, 2012.
Things for Commonwealth appeared to turn for the worse when in late 2012 the provincial government pulled a requirement that the winning bidder of the contract to build the WIDC also work with the private sector to build another project on adjacent property. The requirement had been added after the number of bidders had been reduced to three finalists from 34 and then dropped in response to complaints from those three.
As well, Prince George businessman Brian Fehr has alleged Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Pat Bell had promised his bid to build WIDC would be among the finalists, only for it to be rejected and causing him substantial financial loss in the process.
One of the issues likely to be raised is the significance of a briefing note from NDIT CEO Janine North that says the Trust would loan the money to Commonwealth to assemble and remediate the land, then buy the property back and sell it to UNBC.