Did City Get a Bad Deal in Secret Land Swap?

Did the City of Vancouver strike a “sweet deal” with a developer, and lose over $40 million in the process?

That’s what documents recently released by the City appear to show.

Unfortunately, these documents were hidden from the public at the public hearing for the rezoning of the land in question, at 508 Helmcken St.

Months before the public hearing, the City and Brenhill Developments secretly signed a Land Exchange Contract, and then City Council secretly approved this deal during an in camera meeting.

Then at the public hearing, the terms of the deal and even the existence of this secret contract were intentionally withheld from the public.

At the public hearing, the Land Exchange Contract was repeatedly described by the City in its public documents as “a proposal”. In reality, it wasn’t a proposal at all. It was a done deal, with financial terms and agreed-upon density that were intentionally kept secret.

The City intentionally kept the existence of the contract and its terms secret so that the public could not analyze or discuss what a sweet deal it was for the developer — and what a bad deal it was for taxpayers.

Months after the rezoning, and months after a CANY FOI request, the City finally released the Land Exchange Contract — but only after CANY filed its lawsuit against the City.

CityHallWatch has now examined the terms of the deal and finds that in the land swap, the City lost over $40 million of public funds. See the full details plus an excellent analysis at CityHallWatch: http://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/was_land_swap_a_bad_deal/.

Has City secrecy gone too far? Does the public have a right to know how its tax dollars are spent?