The B.C. NDP capitalized on the opportunity to challenge their opponents after reports emerged that City of Vancouver allegedly swapped land worth over $130-million for just $15-million to development firm Brenhill.
The reports say the deal was struck without seeking a certified appraisal or seeking bids from competitors to a firm that has links to B.C. Liberal donations.
B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and Housing Critic David Eby are framing those reports as part of what they call Liberals’ “wild west” of fundraising.
Housing Critic David Eby says if the deal was legitimate, the Liberals and B.C. Housing Minster Rich Coleman should have no problem explaining their actions.
“The demands of the Housing Minister are actually very straightforward: release all of the documents related to these deals. They still haven’t released the minutes of Mr. Rennie’s committee that made the decision to recommend this loan to Brenhill.”
Bob Rennie is the Vancouver real estate mogul who allegedly brokered the deal.
Eby says the circumstances surrounding his involvement are suspect, to say the least.
“Where are the minutes from that meeting? We were told that Mr. Rennie recused himself and then when the minutes were released it turned out that he was the guy that brought forward this loan proposal to the BC Housing Board. Mr. Rennie, of course, the chief fundraiser for the premier and close personal friend of the housing minister.”
A complaint about the deal was forwarded to the RCMP by the South Vancouver Park Society.
Asked about the complaint, the RCMP confirmed to Global News it is now reviewing documents and determining the best course of action.
Eby says Coleman hasn’t satisfactorily addressed concerns regarding the deal.
“This is a deal that the Housing Minister just a week ago tweeted ‘nothing to see here, everything was above board’, and I wonder whether knew about this RCMP investigation when he sent out that tweet. I wonder if he knew about it when he stood up in the legislature and said that there was nothing to see here and that we were completely wrong in asking him questions about it.”
No news here. The documents confirm the projects were negotiated in a fair & above-board manner. Available online, https://t.co/3QBeE8l5ZW
— Rich Coleman (@colemancountry) March 29, 2017
A 2015 review by Ernst & Young deemed the land swap a fair deal but recommended improvements.
Since then, Housing B.C. and the City of Vancouver say they have tightened controls around how real estate deals are made.