Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents his second balanced budget in 2014

B.C. land sales reached election target

Finance Minister Mike de Jong releases details of two-year surplus land sale that helped him balance two provincial budgets

The B.C. government has released details of its pre-election property sales, showing it came out with more money overall than appraisals or B.C. Assessment Authority values forecast.

Opposition critics called for the disclosure after obtaining government memos that showed a rush to make the deadline for the 2013-14 fiscal year, where the B.C. Liberals campaigned on a balanced budget tabled before the 2013 election.

NDP critics highlighted property in Coquitlam that sold for millions less than an appraiser estimated it would get.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the 14 Burke Mountain properties are an “outlier” in the dozens of land sales that closed during the finance ministry’s budget-balancing program. Later appraisals by the City of Coquitlam identified steeper terrain and streams with protective setbacks that limited their development, decreasing their market value by 20 per cent overall.

Wesbild, the buyer of the Burke Mountain properties, said it paid fair market value.

Development property south of the B.C. legislature beat its appraisal by $13 million, selling for $34 million to help the government meet a $350 million target to end the fiscal year.

A former hospital site in Surrey was sold for $20.5 million, $3 million less than its B.C. Assessment Authority value for property tax purposes. Finance ministry records showed the sale price was midway between two appraisals, one commissioned by the government and the other by the buyer.

De Jong said surplus Crown property is sold every year, with about 1,500 properties disposed of in the last 30 years. They will continue, but there won’t be another identified program in future budgets now that post-recession deficits have ended, he said.

NDP finance critic Carole James said there was an obvious rush to meet ministry targets for asset sales, and some could continue to be sold below market value without the public knowing.

Many of the surplus properties are school sites, and there are other transactions with municipalities.

 

Just Posted

Video: Update one man arrested in Okanagan Falls

The RCMP has requested the school go into lockdown

Okanagan’s first Christmas was cold and bleak

Father Pandosy and his crew likely spent their first Christmas cold and hungry

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15-to-19 year-olds, including one in Coldstream

Holiday Train rolls through the Shuswap

Hundreds of people have gathered in Sicamous, Canoe and Salmon Arm for… Continue reading

Column: Make it a green Christmas

Instead of purchasing a cuddly stuffie this year, put your money towards helping the real thing.

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

What’s happening

Find out about the events happening in your community this weekend

Interior Health holding immunization clinic in Vernon Saturday

IH issues list of Okanagan meningococcal immunization clinics

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

Most Read