The ongoing friction between school boards vs. Education Minister Mike Bernier heated up yesterday,thanks to this: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016EDUC0063-001189
“I am disappointed that the Vancouver School Board chose to go against the School Act by failing to adopt a balanced budget.
“Our offer was a simple one – we gave them the go-ahead to sell Kingsgate Mall and put the proceeds back into education services. We backed that up with a guarantee of almost $6 million in exchange for a small ownership share in the mall if the sale does not happen in the next school year. Either option would have made sure the budget was balanced in Vancouver.
“This proposal gave them the time and the resources they needed to avoid cuts, and they chose to reject that.
“Just like many parents, I am disappointed that the Vancouver School Board has put their desire to own a mall ahead of services for students. Combined with their continued investment of $37 million a year in empty seats, the VSB seems to have forgotten its mission is to educate students – not maintain ownership of as much property as possible.”
Earlier this year the school board considered many options to meet budget shortfalls and at one point considering the sale of the land Kingsgate mall sits on. The land is owned by the VSB, the mall buildings belong to the Beedie group on a long term lease, and brings in $750,000 a year in stable revenue for the school board.
The Vancouver School board decided for a variety of reasons,that selling the land itself at this point is not an option – in my opinion it’s a smart move to keep a stable revenue source for the district, when you consider how this government funds education.
I’m told the VSB never planned to sell the actual land itself – just possibly some air space above that would allow them to raise some capital and maintain future lease revenue (which they do use for operating). VSB never intended to use any Kingsgate capital proceeds for operating funds-the plan was to use those proceeds for capital upgrades to be done in conjunction with future seismic upgrades.
However, the reaction from Bernier on social media did not go un-noticed,nor did the immediate response of not only communications staffers in the BC government, but Liberal party partisan accounts and partisan digital influencers.
What wasn’t largely known to the public yesterday is that the VSB has been in talks with the leaseholder and had specifically asked Bernier not to release information to avoid harming the ongoing business talks – I’ve confirmed the date on this letter was a typo and the letter was sent to Bernier yesterday :
Hmm. Why would Bernier take to social media to push a sale, when it could potentially harm or influence business dealings between the VSB and Beedie ? When he was asked under the Freedom of Information and Privacy act not to?
Isn’t that something? The total for all donations under Beedies various entities to the BC Liberals is $307,915.00 between January 2005 and today. http://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/SA1ASearchResults.aspx?Contributor=beedie&PartySK=0&Party=(ALL)&DateTo=2016%2f06%2f30&DateFrom=2005%2f01%2f01&DFYear=2005&DFMonth=01&DFDay=01&DTYear=2016&DTMonth=06&DTDay=30
Was Bernier deliberately trying to interfere with those negotiations? And for what purpose?
The entire thing is a bit surreal.
Government forces all these boards to make cuts to meet their budget legislation, then sends out Bernier like knight on a white horse tossing $$$ to districts where parents might vote out their Liberal MLA’s – which didn’t fly with parents-and now this?
How in the world does Mike Bernier still have a position as cabinet minster?
It reminds me of the debacle in Surrey where the Clark government sold so-called ‘surplus’ land in Sullivan, an area with over-crowded schools and non-stop development, while the Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt said and did nothing.
Fast forward a year and a half later? After growing public outrage over the massive development the owner of the surplus land wants to build results in a sudden round of meetings with the finance minister and Bernier, suddenly schools are announced and an addition fast-tracked past other projects, to specifically sweeten the developers proposal….
Proving once again that the Liberal method of selling things off to meet budgets,will always cost them ( and us) more in the long run thanks to poor planning and vision. It’s reactive policy,not proactive management.
Which really makes me question the motive for not only Berniers actions last night, but the government communications staffers and partisan Liberal accounts as well.