More questions are emerging around a controversial land swap deal in Downtown Vancouver.
Earlier this week it was revealed the City of Vancouver had traded a parcel of land with developer Brenhill with no competitive bidding and no certified appraisal.
Now it turns out a complaint over the deal has been forwarded to the RCMP.
LISTEN: Controversial land swap complaint goes to RCMP
The deal, which was originally conceived in 2011, would see the city trade the 508 Helmken property for one across the street; in exchange, the developer would fund the development of social housing in the property it was giving up.
But President of South Vancouver Park Society Glen Chernen, who filed the RCMP complaint in the Fall, says the deal was fraught from day one.
“A lot of people are talking about this as a swap. I’d like to just look at it, let the public realize this was a land disposal,” says Chernen.
Chernen says when the city originally valued the land, it failed to calculate about 300,000 square feet of buildable area.
“In Vancouver, downtown, that’s worth a considerable amount of money.”
The city internally valued the property around $15-million at the time, plus a $40-million Community Amenity Contribution to pay for the social housing.
Chernen estimates it was worth something more like $84-million, plus a CAC in the ballpark of $52-million to be paid in exchange for increased density.
“Really, $136-million is what the city should have received in our opinion according to the city’s normal way of doing this kind of thing, but they got $40-million,” Chernen says.
“Numbers were off in a big way”
But Chernen says what’s more alarming than how bungled the calculations were is that apparently no one noticed.
He says the land was appraised in the fall of 2013 by BC Housing for around $80-million.
“Well Council didn’t give final approval until about a year later, April 2014,” Chernen says.
“So what happened in that intervening period between finding that out, by their own admission in October, and then council voting in April? I would think it would be one’s duty to pull the plug on this or at least alert the city and say hey, something’s wrong here. Our numbers were off in a big way.”