Blachford Lake Lodge’s showpiece asset – the lodge itself, some 100 km east of Yellowknife – is set to come up for sale this month.
The lodge abruptly ceased trading in March and filed for bankruptcy. Documents associated with that filing suggested the lodge’s owner, Taiga Sports Fishing, owed customers, staff, companies and lenders more than $3 million at the time.
The NWT government’s Business Development and Investment Corporation – an arm’s-length territorial agency designed to invest in and boost territorial businesses – has begun the legal process of trying to get back more than $1.5 million BDIC says it is owed.
Court documents show that BDO Canada, appointed as Taiga’s receiver, is now preparing to sell the lodge’s buildings as a means of recovering some money.
The lodge had earlier briefly appeared for sale on Coldwell Banker’s website, listed for $3.9 million including both the buildings and the business, but that listing was taken down once Taiga filed for bankruptcy. The new sale is expected to start at a nominal $1, with any interested parties invited to submit their best offer.
If the NWT Supreme Court approves, the lodge will reappear on Coldwell Banker’s site in the next few days. BDO Canada will then spend until July 14 trying to drum up bids, including tours of the site for serious bidders, with final offers due by July 19.
BDO Canada hopes to close the sale by September 5 and says it has held “initial discussions” with unnamed parties interested in buying the lodge. Any sale is likely to require court approval.
Customer debt ‘overstated’
Documents filed last week provide an update on some other aspects of Blachford’s demise.
The lodge was one of the NWT’s best-known tourist destinations, operating for decades until owner Mike Freeland posted a notice on March 22 stating that “the expected funding required for Blachford Lake Lodge to complete its current season has fallen through.”
The latest documents confirm that the lodge ceased trading because of an “inability to fund payroll and critical expenditures such as transportation charges to fly guests to the lodge.”
Twenty-three people were working for the lodge at the time, the documents state. Six employees came to Cabin Radio in the immediate aftermath of the lodge’s closure with concerns about whether they would be paid significant sums.
BDO Canada says it is “continuing to review the books and records of the company with respect to amounts outstanding to employees pertaining to gratuities and an allocation of the gratuities to employees,” referring to thousands of dollars in tips said to have been owed.
Earlier documents filed in bankruptcy proceedings suggested the lodge owed more than $1 million to customers who had paid deposits in advance of future trips.
The new documents suggest that amount “is now understood to be overstated,” but do not provide an updated figure.