Falcon’s Follies: Part 2.

In my previous post I stated that the Gateway initiative and the construction of the SFPR,  were crucial to opening up land development south of the Fraser.  The new mandate given to BC Rail by former transportation minister Kevin Falcon is certainly assisting this venture.

There have been numerous land deals that have taken place since 2005 that are worthy of a second look – land deals that took place along the very contentious P3 project, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, land swaps that occurred with the Tsawwassen First Nations Treaty and prior agreements, and land purchases made by numbered companies owned by BC Rail.

 These land purchases are something many people have known about for years. To be sure, every time a project is on the books, land speculators are scratching at the door, waiting to make millions. Nonetheless, the facts remain to leave us a provocative record of events and transactions, that – depending on who you ask, demonstrate  either a wonderful bit of luck and good timing … or a stunning example of what is often the very profitable side to government land expropriations and public projects.

If you had been a visitor in the legislature on May 30th, 2007, afternoon sitting, you likely would have been listening to this exchange between Kevin Falcon and Guy Gentner :

SOUTH FRASER PERIMETER ROAD
LAND ACQUISITION
G. Gentner: Mr. Speaker, 40 percent of the cost of the $1.1 billion South Fraser perimeter road is allocated towards land acquisition, making it the largest purchase of land for any highway project in the history of B.C. For speculators, there’s a lot of money to be made here.
Can the Minister of Transportation explain how it is that a numbered company paid $1.7 million for contaminated industrial land at 7590 80th Avenue in Delta on February 25, 2004, and flipped it less than a year later — only weeks before the announcement of the South Fraser perimeter road route selection — for $3.6 million?
Hon. K. Falcon: I know it doesn’t take long for those members opposite to climb up the grassy knoll and discover conspiracies everywhere they look. I think, again, that if the member would do his homework, the member would know that in 2004 that was a property that was actually put into foreclosure. That was the value assigned to that property at foreclosure. That is a different value than market value. The member should know that.
In fact, there is a 1998 appraisal report on that same property valuing it at $3 million. We paid $3.6 million through the Gateway project. That was based on an independently provided market assessment.
Interjections.
Mr. Speaker: Members. Members.
The member has a supplemental.
G. Gentner: Well, we know the government paid $600,000 more than the market value. There’s no question there.
Interjection.
G. Gentner: Yes, it did.
Okay. Let’s see. The residents with million-dollar vistas overlooking the Fraser are still awaiting settlement. Their lives are on hold, and yet speculators come in and buy and flip. Hmm, isn’t that interesting?
There’s concern in my community that there is another Gaglardi road deal in the making, where family and friends made oodles of money because of inside knowledge — buying land, knowing where a road was to be built. Can the minister assure this House that something similar is not happening with B.C.’s largest highway land acquisition?
Hon. K. Falcon: I think the member should be careful how he makes those kinds of allegations or casts aspersions, because the fact of the matter is that this is a road whose general route has been talked about and known for almost 20 years. It’s been part of a discussion with the local municipalities for a good six years under this government. There’s been no secrecy about where this route is going to be.
[1430]
I can tell the member opposite — and the member should know — that I have full confidence in the professional public servants that are overseeing the property acquisition. Before acquiring any properties, they receive independently provided market assessments, market appraisals on those properties, and they negotiate fair market purchase prices.
When the member wants to talk about flips and kind of make all of those kinds of insinuations…. You’d better do your homework and make sure that’s actually the case. In this case, I believe that our employees acted totally appropriately.
Interjections.
Mr. Speaker: Members.

This is from Official Report of DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY(Hansard)WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, 2007, Afternoon Sitting,Volume 22, Number 1,ORAL question pages 8357 -8360

Let’s work our way back to the specific transaction that prompted this exchange, more than two years after the fact that it was uncovered by a few concerned citizens who were fighting for their homes, their neighbourhoods, and a very vital part of the ecosystem.

 Jeffrey Merrick is a partner with Blakes, Cassells, and Graydon law firm, here in Vancouver. By clicking on the link above, one can clearly see that in the areas of P3’s and infrastructure, he is highly esteemed and his reputation precedes himself. To be sure, he has been part of the Sea to Sky deal representing the concessionaire and Macquarie, even throughout the recent sale of their share in the Sea to Sky project.

Fact: On February 16th, 2004, the decision to extend the South Fraser Perimeter Road and add a western section from the Alex Fraser Bridge to Deltaport was announced.

 Fact: On February 24th , 2004, a numbered company –606306 BC Ltd. acquired the property at 7590 80th street in Delta for $ 1.7 million dollars. Jeffrey Merrick was the sole director, president and secretary listed on the company search.

Fact: On January 1st, 2005, Mr. Merrick’s numbered company,606306 BC Ltd,amalgamated with Quick Assets Inc.

 Quick Assets Inc. listed four directors at the time: David Bush, John Cosulich, Sari Fleming and Anne Stewart, who also happens to be a partner with the same law firm as Jeffrey Merrick : Blakes Cassels and Graydon.

Anne Stewart has a long and prestigious history working side by side with the Ministry of Transportation on P3 projects- the Canada RAV line, the Sea to sky Highway, the Golden Ears Bridge, and Gateway/Port Mann. She is noted in the who’s who in world leading public procurement lawyers, among other accolades in the bio linked to in her name above.

 Anne Stewart has also acted as legal counsel for the Cosulich Group, the parent company to Quick Assets Inc. and is listed on their site above as having done so since 1975. ( FYI- quick assets , in investing terms, are defined as those which can be converted to cash quickly, making this a rather clever company name)

Fact: On January 24th, 2005, just a few weeks after the numbered company listing Jeffrey Merrick as sole director amalgamated with Quick Assets Inc., that company sold the property in question at 7590 80th street to the B.C Transportation Authority for $ 3.6 million dollars – a profit of $ 1.9 million dollars , a handsome figure to be sure.

On January 31st, 2006, former transportation minister Kevin Falcon and premier Gordon Campbell announced and released the Gateway Program Definition Report Summary, which detailed the timeline of Gateway related projects. The SFPR is slated to undergo a pre-design  public consultation period in 2006,with detailed design consultation not indicated until 2008. ( pg15)

 The property at 7590 80th street is slated to be used as an intersection for the South Fraser Perimeter road. Zoned as industrial/extraction -peat extraction,the market value of the land at the time likely should have been comparatively lower than other industrial lands, considering the likelihood of contamination. ( pdf) The property is also part of a water mound crucial to the viability of Burns Bog, which the provincial government  has signed a covenant to protect.

3.4.1.4 Taylor Ventures Ltd. (Athropa Landfill), 7590, 7664 80th Street

The Athopa Landfill site is located at 7590, 7664 80th Street. Athopa Development Co. Ltd. formerly operated the site, and it accepted commercial and industrial fill between 1994 and 1998 under a permit provided by the Corporation of Delta. In 1995 Taylor Ventures purchased the site. The site is currently under receivership and is being managed through Coopers & Lybrand Ltd. The site registry indicates that the 7664 80th Street site has been determined not to be a contaminated site and that 7590 80th Street site is suspected of containing petroleum hydrocarbons and is under assessment.

A group of concerned citizens started asking questions, doing searches on this property and many others along the proposed route.

What they found raised some eyebrows and leads us back to lawyers  to the numbered company listing Jeffrey Merrick and  Quick Assets, which listed Anne Stewart as directors.

Anne Stewart, who has so often worked closely with the Ministry of Transportation on a variety of P3 projects, was clearly listed as a Director of Quick Assets Inc., the company who made such a handsome profit on the property acquired by Jeffrey Merricks numbered company. To be fair, lawyers are often listed as the only directors on a numbered company,when acting on instruction from clients who perhaps wish to remain unknown. As such, usually the lawyer’s office is listed as the address for the corporate records. This certainly is plausible in the case of Merrick and Stewart both appearing as directors on seperate companies.

Cosulich group, the parent company to Quick Assets inc,  has a variety of businesses under their banner, including shipping container companies that provide off dock services to shipping companies at Deltaport and the Vancouver port. Kozul Holdings Inc. and Delta Container ( Delco) are among the companies listed, as is Quick Assets Inc.,which is described as maintaining “a diverse portfolio of investments.”

It should be noted, Delta Containers inc / Kozul holdings is the owner of the property adjacent ( north side) to the property sold, which is still currently stacked with empty cargo  shipping containers.

In the Hansard debate, Kevin Falcon said Mr. Merrick acquired the property via a foreclosure, hence the low purchase price.  Then transportation minister Kevin Falcon, stated the government purchased the property at market value, as are most expropriations. Fair enough, but the property was still purchased for far more than it comparatively should have been considering the zoning and condition of the land. Based on a previous market valuation, at least $600,00 more, by some estimates.

Because both Mr.Jeffrey Merrick and Ms. Anne Stewart appeared as directors on companies involved in the  acquisition and subsequent sale of the land along the SFPR route, more questions arose as to whether or not this constituted a real or perceived conflict of interest – whether or not they were real principals or acting on the direction of an unknown client.

 Specifically, because both lawyers worked in the same firm, both worked directly with the government and Ministry of Transportation, on various P3 projects ( including Gateway, in the case of Anne Stewart)  and both appeared as directors who may  or may not have benefitted directly from this land deal,  the question arose whether this deal was the result of any access to inside ministry or client information that would not have been specifically or  widely available to other  residential property owners affected along the project route. And if they were acting on the instructions of a client who wished to remain unknown, how would that client have known specifically what was planned for this property at a time when even pre-design public consultations were beginning?

It is certainly true that although the project was widely talked about with municipalities etc prior to the above date, and residents had been told the government planned to ram through the Gateway megaproject in general, very few, if any, residential property owners had been informed as to specific information on the South Fraser Perimeter road and their homes prior to this date. In fact, as of 2007, many property owners were still in the dark as to what compensation they would get, how they would be affected and other pressing details. This short video highlights that lack of specific information bothering residents of the area, who had been living in limbo for some time.

It is a fact that it remained  such a concern, that one person,Donna Passmore, filed a request with the law society to look into the concerns concerning a potential conflict of interest of these two lawyers with regards to this land purchase and subsequent sale in May of 2007. In October of that same year, the law society closed the file and determined that there was no basis for the allegations.

Anne Stewart now sits on the Ethics Committee of the law society of British Columbia and the property is under construction for the South Fraser Perimeter Road. You can view all the documents related to this sale here: http://www.scribd.com/7590-80th-Street-Package/d/48446607

  There was a second SFPR property sold to the B.C. Transportation Financing Authority for a quick profit of  approximately 2 million at the same time as the 80th Street property.  The second property is at 7672 Progress Way. Ralph A. May, was the owner of the property under his company, Agri Management.  He owns an ALR property of 144.8 acres.  On October 16, 2002 he was permitted by the ALC to rezone 4.9 acres of the property for industrial use.  Then the property was added to 3 acres of Delta’s road allowance to form a new 7.48 – acre parcel.  Agri Management Corporation (Ralph May) sold the property to 652194 B.C. Ltd for $1,775,000 in March, 2004.  Then the numbered company sold it to the B.C. Transportation Financing Authority for $3,880,000 10 months later. You can see the relevent documents here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48446836/7672-Progress-Way-Package

Onto the Beedie Group, who are well-known developers south of the Fraser, and CHUM. In 2007, the Beedie Group purchased a property adjacent to the South Fraser Perimeter Road making for easy access to an industrial park. The property was purchased from CHUM for approximately 28$ million around the time of the takeover by CTV Globemedia. You can see more details here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48448086/Beedie-Chum-Property-1 

Look for more on Beedie from fellow blogger Norman Farrell shortly, and of course, Ryan Beedie, president of the Beedie Group is one of Falcon’s biggest supporters, as detailed in this video on the Falcon20/20 site.

There are other land deals along the SFPR that are currently being researched and documented, and brought to the public in a short while, so let’s move onto the biggest land swap and removal of ALR lands that occurred with the Tsawwassen First Nations Treaty.

The agreements made prior to the treaty being signed, as well as the treaty, have been called by some one of the provinces biggest schemes to get ALR land for the proposed Deltaport expansion. The driving force behind all of it, of course, being Falcon’s pet project and so often trumpeted leadership selling points, that Asia-Pacific Gateway initiative that brought us the SFPR, the new mandate he thrust onto BC rail and a whole lot of questionable moves on the part of the government he is a part of.

The Final Treaty for the Tsawwassen First Nation, which was ratified July 25, 2007, came with a large amount of protest from both citizens of Delta, conservationists and others who could clearly see the writing on the wall. -( this is a must read link, short and very pointed by Rafe Mair) In the end, there is no shorter way to say it other than the government got all the land they needed from the TFN, over two thousand acres of crown waterfront needed for proposed port expansion… and gave the TFN over one thousand acres of ALR- along with some cash and other incentives in return. It can’t be stressed enough how many TFN band members felt about this treaty and the land exchange, and to this day it stands as a sore point for many who felt band leaders sold them out. You can have a look at what happened prior to this treaty signing, here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/48457881/Prerequisite-Agreements-of-the-Tsawwassen-First-Nation-Final-Treaty

Of course, as detailed in my previous post, the TFN have plans in the works for retail centre – sources tell me they are looking at big box stores a la Walmart style, and industrial parks to the north near the port. A lot of land development on some of the finest farmland around.

Which leads me to the last piece of the land development puzzle, BC rail  and their land acquisitions.

As shown in the previous post, part of BC Rails new mandate was to acquire “strategic” properties for possible future port expansion. They started approaching farmers and landowners back in 2007, although BC rail liked to say the people came to them. And yes, it was mentioned that the railway still held the power of expropriation, and of course they still do. Which is vitally important to remember.

In 2007 BC rail applied to the ALR to have some land removed  for a 50 foot right of way – a copy of that application is here : http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/application_status/Docs/37610sr.pdf

They were asking to purchase a strip of land approximately 60 m adjacent to the rail line and another strip next to another portion of the line to provide road access to its rail operations if the SFPR construction cut off the existing service road.

In 2008, after the appropriate processes were undertaken, the ALR replied with a conditional approval, which you can read here: http://www.alc.gov.bc.ca/application_status/Docs/37610d1.pdf

The land acquisitions went ahead as per the Property Identification Numbers ( PID’s)  listed on the application.

However,  two numbered companies went on to buy more land, in the area where BC Rail was once considering building that rail yard talked about in the previous post. A rail yard the railway was not eager to talk about and one that former Liberal MLA Val Roddick actually stated was not going to happen – that it was off the books.

In fact, the alleged rail yard was not even mentioned in the environmental assessments for the Deltaport expansion/third berth, back in 2007 :

 “All of the rail improvements will be constructed within B.C. Rail’s property on the Roberts Bank causeway and within their existing right-of-way,” the Deltaport Third Berth Project assessment application states.

The absence of any details on a rail yard in the environmental assessment application worries politicians because the document was used by provincial and federal ministers to assess the impact of the overall project. 

 And then all was quiet. Or so it seemed.

Quietly, and without much notice, two numbered companies were making land purchases in the ALR, in an area close to the BC rail line. Large properties, farmland fertile and productive. Here are three separate packages of land title documents – the important thing to note is the numbered company on each.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48460762/BC-Rail-Purchase-1

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48460884/BC-Rail-Purchase-2

http://www.scribd.com/doc/48461078/BC-Rail-Purchase-3

These three land titles alone equal approximately 80 acres. The first and the third were purchased by 0839565 BC. Ltd. and the second purchased by 0838465 BC Ltd.

Both numbered companies have listed addresses of #600- 221 West Esplanade, North Vancouver… which happens to be the address for none other than BC Rail Company.

Could these perhaps be some ” strategic land acquisitions” for future port expansion ? Does the government make a habit of buying land under numbered companies?

I have confirmed with Richard Myhill Jones of BCR properties that the numbered companies are in fact, owned by BCR properties, a subsidiary of BC rail.

I also confirmed that the properties ” were considered strategic land acquisitions for future port expansion at the time. ” Just BC rail doing what they were ordered to do in the new mandate given to them by former transportation minister Kevin Falcon.

 Makes you wonder what current transportation minister Shirley Bond knows about this.  I confirmed with the ALR this morning that there have been no further applications from BC rail with regards to that land and that these lands are still currently in the ALR. But for how long, no one knows.And for what purpose as of yet, no one knows. Will the rail yard happen, and is this what these lands are for?

I am left with far more questions than I am answers following this post. Do the early land deals from 2005 constitute part of the announced project cost?

Is the government hiding the true cost of public projects by buying land prior to environmental assessments and approvals?

While it may not be illegal for lawyers who are actively involved in government business  and assist other clients in buying land along said projects, is it right? Who is policing this and is this happening on other projects?

What was the real reason behind the downgrades for the SFPR, and how do they relate to these land deals?

And why is BC rail, a company that was to be wound down and assets sold because it was such a burden to the province, quietly given a new mandate that seems to be a key reasoning behind all of this – from the land deals to the port expansion to Gateway and the SFPR? 

And most curious of all, why is it using numbered companies to buy prime farm land?

Between well-connected land speculators and the highly questionable way government does business in all of these deals, one thing is clear. Someone has some explaining to do.

Perhaps we could start with the man who wishes to be premier.

*

40 thoughts on “Falcon’s Follies: Part 2.

  1. concerned citizen

    If BC Rail is buying up these properties for prices that are inflated, to what benefit is this to the people of this province? Who own BC Rail Properties? Is there a deal where the lieberals actually own BC Rail Prop, not this province? * edited – LY.

    Like

    1. Laila

      The prices are market prices, which are higher than BC assessment values. BC rail properties is owned by BC Rail. BC rail was brought back into government last year, as per the first part of this post.

      I will be enabling comment moderation for the first time when I retire for the night, please feel free to leave your comments and I will release them all in the morning. I would caution you in wording your comments carefully and I expect you understand what I mean… : )

      Like

  2. GotIt

    When the SFPR was first announced it made no sense to me, I have puzzled for years trying to understand the reason for it. Finally the road makes sense from a developer point of view. Not being a developer, well that explains why I like it even less now that I understand the plan.

    Like

  3. John's Aghast

    Still aghast at what’s transpiring. In the G.O.D.’s no-one informed us of these ‘deals’. A few of us understood what was going on – it’s not new. But back then, the few who knew and aren’t now deceased just figured that’s the way things happened. We understood that certain people were ‘blessed’, and the rest of us weren’t.
    I grew up knowing that politicians had a unique position – that those that were on the ‘inside’ were privy to advantages that the rest of us weren’t. There were those that ‘had’, and the rest of us didn’t.
    I believe (and hope) that the times are changing, hopefully before it’s too late.

    As I’ve said in previous posts, ‘We’ve known and accepted all along that we’ve been ‘compromised’. We were taught to accept it. We were conditioned to accept the vulgarities of the BC Rail scandle. Then, with the raid on the legislature, we hoped that there might be some enlightenment – perhaps an explanation of what went on behind the scenes. We waited, some with bated breath, for the outcome of the ‘trial’. And it went on, and on, and some supposed there was a nefarious reason. But surely, no-one expected the ‘guilty’ plea in October 2010.

    And so, faced with the penalty of house arrest (I suffer a greater degree of ‘arrest’ as a husband) and the waiving of the legal fees, what are we to expect? We have put up with the ‘misappropriation’ by governments of taxpayer’s funds since time immemorial. But to have our faces rubbed in it with the BC Rail Basi/Virk fiasco is an affront. And to have to pay $6 million for the face washing is a travesty!

    After all these years I pray there is a God, or some semblance of justice.

    Like

  4. whatdoyaknow

    Surprise surprise. 6:17 news from NW this a.m. is Beedie brothers ryan and whoever, are donating 22 million to SFU, and renaming the business school the Beedie school of business.

    Funny timing on this announcement,think so?

    Like

  5. Grateful in Delta

    My grandaughter sent me this last night, so I hope I can say a couple words and pardon my typing,Im an old man. I lived in Delta my whole life and I will probly die here too.I had some guys in suits knocking on my door all summer last year,bugging me with their offers and warnings the offers wernt going to be there forever. I got my dog out quick like,and chased em both back to their car. After the dog grabbed the pants on one of em, they never came back. I dont know who they were but know Im real curious. Theres tricks to get land you know? You did a good thing here miss. Im grateful someone cares.

    Like

  6. Richelle Giberson

    To “Grateful in Delta”,

    There are many people who care, and who have been fighting this road for a long time. You can learn more about the SFPR and what has been done so far to fight it through the following websites:

    http://www.sunburyneighbourhood.ca
    http://www.sfan.ca
    http://www.burnsbog.org
    http://www.gatewaysucks.org

    We can win this battle, and you can help. Just contact any of the groups listed above to offer your support.

    Like

  7. Donna

    I guess this is why, Falcon is known as the closest clone of Campbell’s many clones. Campbell’s corrupt sale of the BCR, is certainly reaching it’s very long arm outwards and touching all of the shysters. Campbell corrupt sale of the BCR, is the worst and most corrupt event, in BC’s history, perhaps in Canadian history. Unless the BC Liberal government, is driven out of BC, the corruption will continue, and is continuing.

    Like

  8. anonymous

    I don’t want to leave my name here, but I saw on your facebook page Mr.Tsakumis said “The RCMP have provided me with evidence that when Collins met with the OT execs in the infamous Villa del Lupo mtng, he pulled any offers off the table.

    3) OT then tried to lobby Falcon and were rebuffed, in writing. ”

    ) I met with the RCMP because they were “concerned” about what else I had in my possession. No intimidation, nice and friendly, totally within my right…s, not party to any action so I can have and release what I like. In that discussion I ASKED THEM, repeat, I ASKED THEM about the Collins meeting as I was always suspect of the answers provided by Broe and Johnston. To my surprise, I discovered that my suspicions beared fruit. Collins DID NOT offer a consolation prize and Basi was supposed to attend and didn’t. ”

    I’m not too informed on all the ins and outs, but I dont get why the RCMP would tell him and he hasnt even mentioned it except on your facebook page. Isn’t that kinda information private or something?

    Like

  9. anonymous

    Yeah, I sw that too along with his ‘circle jerk’ insults again. He seems to know a lot about circle jerks.

    Me, I’m just trying to figure out why the BC rail co is using #’d comps to buy land? Is that allowed by government?

    Like

  10. Linda

    Your site and blogs are the most informative of anything I’ve been able to come across so far.
    As a resident of Ladner, I’m appalled…frightened and not a little resigned to the big business bullying approach to politics that I have witnessed since moving here.
    Delta is being treated like a child that is to be seen and not heard. I have to say that our municipal leadership has done little to assist the citizens in their protests and if anything, it appears that municipal leadership are also in the pockets of big business interests and the Provincial Government.
    What is the world going to do when there is no more land upon which to grow food?

    Like

  11. Laila

    Sorry for the late presence, it has been an extremely busy and productive day thus far! A lot of new information has been flooding in and it is important that some of it was followed up on right away.

    First off, to Grateful in Delta, as Richelle mentions, this information is not new, nor is the fight to reveal it. The groups Richelle has listed ( and Richelle, I apologize for not posting them! Thank you!) would be eager for both assistance and I am sure they can assist you in finding anything you need to know, as can I if you email me directly. Your story is hardly new, or limited to Delta.Bernadette is a dedicated passionate woman, as are the people she works with. Rafe was very vocal about the treaty/ALR negotiations, as well as being blatantly honest about the provinces motives in the link I include above.

    Agreed Brent. I hear the SFU students aren’t too happy about this donation either – they protested heartily last year about the Goldcorp donation and I suspect we shall see something about this as well. I find it remarkable this donation has received so much press, when the deaths of the 26 children in ministry care received far less front page attention.

    Anonymous 1- I have no idea why the RCMP would be telling or giving Tsakumis information like that- you would have to ask him, but I understand your hesitance. I have removed him as a facebook contact after the insults and incredibly vulger references like anon 2 mentions. I expect and welcome disagreement, debate and discussion, but there is no place for insults,and locker room talk more suited to, well , I don’t know where. He has quickly ventured into libel with his remarks and it has been noted. But that language won’t be tolerated here, or on my facebook page.

    Anon 2- Questions that should be directed to the government… who have been busy reading and watching all day, as have many federal offices.

    Thank you Linda, you are too kind and there are many people who send me information and tips who are to be thanked behind all of it. There suddenly seems to be many people wanting to talk and share information.

    I am as surprised as you are at what goes on in Delta, but to some extent it is happening in Surrey too.

    Like

    1. Laila

      There is large expansion and growth at the Boundary Bay airport, and has been for some time. In my previous post I talked about the Retail centre headed for the ferry side of the TFN. For sure there are strong areas of development potential in several places.

      Like

  12. workforfun

    I can’t offer much other than being blown away by the amount of deliberate with holding of information and plans by the provincial government. Though that being said, I suppose that is to be expected where Campbell and Falcon are concerned.

    It is good to read about the interest of both the provincial and federal governments, in visiting your site. Just maybe more information is being circulated than we realize – let’s hope so anyway.

    Thanks

    Like

  13. Ron G

    Laila, it is worth noting that BC Assessment (BCAA) values for farm lands are not market values. Most of the information the BCAA provide on their website and in their publications is related to residential properties.

    Assessments for farm lands (used for property tax purposes) are primarily based on soil classifications which produce values considerably lower than market. I do not have the specifics at my fingertips, but details can be obtained from the local assessment office.

    Assessments for rail lines and the trackage are also not based on market values. There is some correlation to railway rights-of-way and market, but there is another unique valuation methodology for the trackage. Both the assessment values for farm lands and railways are set through Orders-in-Council (Provincial OIC’s).

    Since the local BCAA office is closed as I write this comment I can’t give you more specifics, but it is referenced below:

    Phone: 604-241-1361
    Toll Free: 1-800-644-7774
    Fax: 604-241-1365
    Email: richmond-delta@bcassessment.ca

    Like

    1. Laila

      Certainly – I think I mentioned somewhere in these two pieces that land purchased by the MOT is based on market, not assessed values- which is fair. I do know there is a confusion for some on the difference between BC assessments and market assessments. The interesting thing with some of the earlier land purchases is that the province still paid higher than a previous market valuation – it all depends on who does that valuation. And as well, many of the residential landowners along the route did not receive the same generous market values that the industrial properties received,worth noting, and others will face declining market values based on this road going through in front of or right behind their homes. The system seems to be far more generous to industrial landowners.

      I received something from NVG last night, interesting and certainly related to this story

      http://a100.gov.bc.ca/appsdata/epic/documents/p196/d22430/1160692507206_8472cae2a0154601bf12ab205e7b4d0f.pdf

      4.4.10 Potential for Land Speculation and Resulting Economic Impacts > 4.4.10 Potential for Land Speculation and Resulting Economic Impacts> The SFPR has the potential in areas near the alignment to lead to a > change from> commercial farming operations to lower value uses wherever the land > loss is significant> relative to the size of the operation, or where the difficulty in > accessing agricultural> parcels is perceived to outweigh the benefit of continuing to farm > these fragmented> operations. These properties may subsequently be farmed at a lower > intensity, converted> into “hobby farm” uses and rural estates, or be bought on > speculation of future exclusion> or exemption. Pressures for removing lands from the ALR tend to > arise most frequently> on lands held for speculative purposes and on hobby farms. About 30% > of the properties> physically affected by the SFPR are owned by holding companies, > absentee landlords,> which is one indicator of potential speculation, demonstrating there > is already a> significant amount of speculative interest in Delta farmland. In > 1992, about 65% of the> land was farmed on a rented or leased basis (Klohn Leonoff Ltd. et > al., 1992). For Delta> as a whole, the 2002 census of agriculture found that 55% of > farmland is leased or> rented, compared to the GVRD average of 34% (Statistics Canada, > 2002; Table 6).

      Like

  14. Jim

    Curious as to the legalities and ethics of BC Rail Propeties using numbered companies to buy this land. You’ve really hit on something here. I’m going to check with some colleagues out here because I remember a similar situation in another province that turned out to be a hell of a scandal.

    Mind if I send this round to the big dailies?

    Like

  15. Turtle

    One has to wonder if the Delta municipal politicians are connected to this whole mess. They did afterall support a Liberal candidate in the last provincial election.

    This whole mess needs to be properly exposed. Keep up the Awesome work! Has this been forwarded to all the leadership candidates (Liberal and NDP) and to the maintstream press?

    Like

    1. Laila

      Yes I agree entirely that Delta municipal poiticians have a part to play in all of this, certainly city hall is aware of what is going on. There is more to come on this story shortly, and no, I have not forwarded this to the leadership candidates – I have been far too busy running around Delta taking photos of properties, work sites and checking research and information that has come in. But, I certainly give permission for you or anyone else to forward this story, and part 1, to the leadership candidates. I have shared all this information with an excellent writer/reporter and he is going to give it all a look shortly.

      I rely heavily on my readers to facebook, twitter and email these stories around ,and of course, the wonderful community papers around BC – so far part 1 has appeared in the Langley Today, the Abbotsford Today and several other community papers. There has been a lot of very favourable support behind the scenes and a plethora of new information.

      Jim, I have not found anything thus far that prevents the government from using shell companies or numbered companies to invest or otherwise purchase property or anything else. Makes you wonder why a government who espouses transparency and accountability would be so willing to use avenues that are anything but…

      The government has a lot to answer for.

      Like

  16. ….A blog on transportation urban planning environment and other issues that affect the livability of the South of Fraser region in Southern BC the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the world sometimes. Also the official source of information for the non-profit South Fraser OnTrax SFOT Transportation Advocacy Society…… I should note that they are spending 70 billion on roads which is still where 75 of federal transportation infrastructure dollars go. It would be good to see this percentage more balanced…Its too bad that in Canada we dont have this kind of predictable commitment to transit at a federal level……

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  17. anonymous

    to anonymous above,how is it that the RCMP showed evidence to Alex Tsakumis about the Gary Collins meeting? I am a facebook friend too of Laila and read that whole shpiel he wrote about asking the RCMP and they showed him the evidence. It sounds like the wiretap evidence that the Globe& Mail are applying to have released.If it is not, then the RCMP showed Alex evidence no one else has seen yet. No matter what,this is something I am curious about too, how it is they would show him evidence. It’s still on there on your facebook page,right Laila? Anyone can see what he wrote.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I can’t answer your questions Anonymous, but I have been receiving a lot of emails about the statements Mr. Tsakumis made on that facebook post. I would suggest to you, as I have to everyone who has asked me, that you either ask Mr. Tsakumis directly for specifics on this information or contact the RCMP – perhaps they will share evidence with you as willingly as they did with Mr.Tsakumis.

      Like

  18. Al

    Liberal Leadership Mike DeJong was asked to investigate this late last year – what was the result of that request, do you know?
    http://farmlanddefenceleague.org/RequestForInvestigation2010.pdf

    Hon. Mike de Jong, MLA
    Attorney General
    Province of British Columbia
    PO BOX 9044, STN PROV GOVT
    Victoria, BC V8W9E2
    Dear Sir:
    On behalf of the Farmland Defence League of British Columbia and the 90% of British
    Columbians who support the protection of British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve,
    I write to request an independent inquiry into the roles of Premier Gordon Campbell,
    former Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, current Transportation Minister Shirley
    Bond and BC Rail with respect to what appears to be covert use of BC Rail and misuse
    of public funds to industrial nearly 500 acres of Agricultural Land Reserve in South Delta.
    In addition to revelations uncovered during the Basi-Virk criminal trial, it now appears
    that the Premier and Minister Falcon were directly involved in maintaining BC Rail as a
    shell company to purchase farmland for industrialization and transportation projects,
    contrary to what they indicated during the Gateway Plan open houses and all
    information about the farmland impacts of the Gateway Project.
    The Farmland Defence League has learned that after its operations were sold to CN,
    under the direction of the Premier and Minister Falcon, BC Rail spent $15 million of
    taxpayer dollars to purchase 150 acres of prime south Delta farmland for expansion of
    the Gateway Project far in excess of public disclosure during the Gateway Project open
    houses and discussions arising from the Gateway Project’s applications to the
    Agricultural Land Commission. The Farmland Defence League is concerned that while
    lands had been purchased by BC Rail for transportation expansion at the time the
    applications were made to the ALC, these plans were not disclosed in an attempt to
    prevent public awareness of the true cumulative impacts, environmentally and
    economically, of the Premier and Minister Falcon’s transportation plans.
    The Farmland Defence League is concerned that rights-to-purchase considerably more
    farmland in the South Delta area (Appendix “B” – hand drawn map) are being
    purchased, with confidentiality agreements being signed by the sellers, by individuals or
    organizations acting on behalf of the BC government without public disclosure or the
    awareness or approval of the legislature.
    These actions are contrary to the objectives of the Agricultural Land Reserve and the
    wishes of the people of British Columbia, consistently affirmed over the 37 years since
    the Farmland Defence League of
    BC
    the ALR was created. As such, the Premier and ministers of Transportation have acted
    covertly and contrary to the Agricultural Land Commission Act and the interests of the
    people of British Columbia.
    Our Directors are happy to meet with the independent investigator and share our
    knowledge and records.
    Respectfully,
    Donna Passmore
    Campaign Director

    Like

    1. Laila

      Hi Al, and thanks for posting this. I have not seen this document – to this date no one has mentioned it to me so I don’t know how many people are aware that a formal request for investigation was made.

      Certainly, I will look into this as soon as I can!

      Like

  19. Dan

    Gee, what more don’t we know about? Why else would the government want to use #’d co’s to buy land?

    There’s gotta be something to this,because how can the gov tell us BC rail was going to be wound down and then Falcon swoops in does this new mandate.

    Anybody ask DeJong about this?

    Like

  20. B & C

    My wife and I were thinking Falcon was the right way to go after he stopped by the company I work for and asked all to be part of his vision.After reading this, I don’t think so. I can’t stand behind someone whose end game is the same as Campbell and this story spells it all out.

    Sure am glad we were watching the news during dinner or we’d have never known about all this. We’re going to spend some time looking around,and thank you to the CBC for airing that. Great blog!

    Like

  21. Laila

    Glad to have you both on board and I hope you continue to enjoy the stories and information on these pages! If you search tags, or use the search box at the top, you can find much more, and of course, the archives are always easy to run through. Thank you for taking the time to comment here, and hope to see you do so again!

    Like

  22. Pingback: Friday April 22: Join the Wave Against the Pave! «

  23. Pingback: Earth Day Parade

    1. Laila

      I saw the original post by the Globe and Mail yesterday am first thing – this is about access to resource development more than it is about allowing a few farmers to produce poultry or something other on lower grade farmland. Pimm is all over this one. More to come on it.

      Like

  24. Pingback: BC Liberals pat themselves on the back over SFPR ‘highway’ opening a year late and $464 million over budget | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

  25. Pingback: Time to stick your head out the window and yell . . . | Perceptivity

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