(Updated) CBC News has published an article about a legally-binding order made by an adjudicator of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia ( OIPC) regarding an order to release of all of the details of the sale of public land at the former Little Mountain Housing site to Holborn Holdings (http://www.holborn.ca/, CEO Joo Kim Tiah, @holdborngrp).
Further information and background about this ruling are in the article at the following link: B.C. Housing ordered to reveal details of deal to sell Little Mountain lands to developer (Jeremy Allingham, CBC, 1-Oct-2020).
A few key points from the CBC article include:
- The land was sold back in 2008 and previously housed 224 units of social housing.
- Separate FOI requests were filed by the CBC and by former MLA David Chudnovsky and eventually led to this ruling; most of the CBC’s request from June 2018 was redacted.
- The OPIC investigated the complaints related to the FOI requests and release, took the matter to adjudication, and now has ruled that the documents must be released by November 5, 2020.
- The parties, BC Housing or Holborn have until October 23rd to make a filing at the BC Supreme Court, if they wish to try block the release of the documents.
Download the official text of OIPC adjudicator Celia Francis’s order F20-41 (Sep 23, 2020) entitled “British Columbia Housing Management Commission”:
Holborn is perhaps most well known as the developer behind the Trump Tower in Vancouver. Holborn, a development firm in Vancouver, owned by one of Malaysia’s wealthiest families, is reported to have argued that the release of the sale information could cause harm to its business. The Little Mountain Housing site, which once housed almost 800 people in the 224 social housing units, is empty today apart from two buildings constructed along East 37th Avenue (permanent 5-storey building with 53 units of social housing and a 46-unit Temporary Modular Housing building).
Things are still tricky. What will happen next? WIll Joo Kim Tiah next turn to the B.C. Supreme Court in another attempt to block the release of the information? Will B.C. Housing join the case after the provincial election October 24, 2020?
Dan Fumano in the Vancouver Sun also covered this news item: “Long-secret Little Mountain sales documents ordered released in FOI battle” (1-Oct-2020) Excerpt: “Many people are “skeptical about whether this deal was ever in the interests of the people of the City of Vancouver,” said retired MLA David Chudnovsky. “But now we’re going to be able to find out.” Also, “All parties involved now have the option of applying, within 30 days, to B.C. Supreme Court to seek a judicial review. In such cases, if a party applies for a judicial review, the commissioner’s order is typically stayed for 120 days, said OIPC spokesman Noel Boivin.”
CityHallWatch has covered the story many times. Use “Little Mountain” in the search field for links. Using the hashtag #takebackthemountain, Chudnovsky and others organized a rally on November 30, 2019 to mark ten years after the demolition of the social housing on the site. See “Little Mountain petition & rally Nov 30 (Sat) to mark 10 years since social housing demolition and call for Province to take back the site” and “Rally on Nov 30th marks 10 years since social housing demolition. Calls for Province to take back the site.”
The OIPC’s official summary of the order is as follows: Two applicants made requests to the British Columbia Housing Management Commission (BCHMC) under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) for the contract for the sale of the Little Mountain social housing site to Holborn Properties Limited. BCHMC disclosed the responsive records in severed form, withholding some of the information under s. 21(1) (harm to third-party business interests) of FIPPA. The adjudicator found that s. 21(1) did not apply and ordered BCHMC to disclose the information in dispute to the applicants. One applicant argued that s. 25(1)(b) (public interest override) required disclosure of the information in dispute. The adjudicator decided it was not necessary to consider s. 25(1)(b), in light of her decision under s. 21(1).
The full text of the ruling by the OIPC is available in a PDF:
CityHallWatch has previously obtained the details of the sales agreement, as recorded in the Land Titles Office. However, this is an incomplete record of the full sale. See below.
Little Mountain Housing site sold to Holborn for $87 million (CityHallWatch, January 13, 2014)
Little Mountain petition & rally Nov 30 (Sat) to mark 10 years since social housing demolition and call for Province to take back the site
(CityHallWatch, November 27, 2019)
Little Mountain 15.3 acre housing site Public Hearing (July 19th): The back story of a tragedy (CityHallWatch, July 19, 2016)