“I need to be able to defend the sale as market value” (CoV employee to developer): City’s FOI department is stalling full release of crucial docs on sale of public land until AFTER Broadway Plan goes to Council (May 18)

Above: Former RBC building and adjacent laneway at West Broadway and Granville

The City of Vancouver’s Freedom of Information department is stalling the full release of the details of a land sale at 1477 W Broadway until May 19, 2022. It’s not by chance that that is one day after the Broadway Plan goes to City Council for a decision. This delay is clearly unjustified and goes against the public interest. We hope that the secret land deal did not cheat the stretched public coffers of millions of dollars, putting them into the developer’s pockets. We hope it followed due process. The deal was a critical step in enabling a tower rezoning approval as a crucial link, setting a precedent for the entire Broadway Plan. Ultimately, Mayor Kennedy Stewart has primary responsibility for protecting the public interest. Will he? Once the documents are released, we’ll have a better idea.

In a previous post we noted: …in the release is an e-mail in which a City of Vancouver Real Estate Services employee wrote the developer: “I need to be able to defend the sale as market value.“ The employee also wrote “I’m concerned with securing Council approval for this deal so it doesn’t die at the 11th hour”. It also appears that the “appraisal for the City-lands” was “for a different site”. Regarding the appraisal itself: “The appraisal includes a value range, and I’m prepared to consider a number in the low to mid-point of the range. Anything below this will be challenged.”

Evidently, people in the real estate department need to be reminded who they are working for.

The FOI department gave a partial release under a Freedom of Information request on April 14th at the start of the Public Hearing for a 39-storey tower at 1477 West Broadway (at Granville Street, see our previous post here for details). The full release of the records was promised by staff for April 26th. That deadline was missed. But on April 27th, City staff made another partial release of records that centered around the relocation of utilities and did not contain the key records of interest, namely the appraisal and the sale price.

We’ve reproduced this reply further below as a PDF. Staff wrote back: “Please note, this is a phased release part one of three was sent to you on April 14, 2022 and part three of three will be sent to you no later than May 19, 2022. As mentioned, the Broadway Plan goes to Council on May 18th.

Included in the first partial FOI release and duplicated in this second partial release is an e-mail in which a City of Vancouver Real Estate Services employee wrote the developer: “I need to be able to defend the sale as market value….“ [The rest as above]

From the perspective of the public, this banter in the form of a negotiation done by e-mail, between a public employee representing the public interest and a private developer may seem a little too cozy. The original FOI request was submitted back on November 17, 2021.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s