A parcel of belated Festivus grievances

TransLink plebiscite swagger, Vision donor gets council nod, Vancouver developer jailed in Hong Kong, another Liberal lawyer honoured

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and it’s beginning to look a lot like TransLink feels a Yes vote for its 0.5% sales tax is a foregone conclusion.

The same week the sample ballot was released, a Vancouver real estate agent quietly revealed that TransLink had paid $6.25 million for a corner building at West Broadway and Cypress, near the potential western terminus of the Broadway Subway. Perhaps TransLink is gambling that values will rise in 2015, but the optics aren’t good. David Taylor of Colliers International runs the Vancouvermarket.ca blog, chronicling investment and development activity in Vancouver.

TransLink says it has not purchased any other property along the Broadway corridor in 2013 and 2014.

“This property was purchased as an income producing asset and currently houses an office building with retail that generates revenue for TransLink,” said a statement from vice-president of real estate Derek Cheung. “The intent of this acquisition is to look ahead and invest in property along anticipated transit corridors that generate income. In the future, the property may act as a site/project office or construction staging area.”

Street level anchors at 1909 West Broadway are Akbar’s Own Cuisine of India and Canadian Home Style. Offices upstairs include Outward Bound, the B.C. Psychological Association, Westside Church Office, Counter Clockwise Design and Production Group and Reality Vancouver.

Former owner Value Property Group’s president Arnold Silber donated $10,000 to Vision Vancouver before the 2014 election.

TransLink also quietly published requests for proposals seeking help to estimate the cost of the Broadway Subway and Surrey light rail proposals. The Nov. 28 tender documents say TransLink wants technical services that include cost estimates by late summer that are “+/- 30% cost confidence.” The documents also indicate that SNC-Lavalin has had a hand in the plans for the Broadway Subway since 2009. Yes, the same scandal-plagued SNC-Lavalin that I wrote about in this Georgia Straight feature.

So TransLink has purchased real estate on the intended route for the Millennium Line expansion, near the proposed Arbutus terminus. And it won’t have an accurate cost estimate for what has been pondered to be a $3 billion project until several months after it wants you to vote yes to pay for its expansion.

Keeping track

Anyone notice that Solterra, the developer who got the green light to redevelop the North Star Hotel in the Downtown Eastside, is also Vision Vancouver supporter?

Plans for the 31 unit hotel at 5 West Hastings call for 13 units to be rented at market rates, the rest subsidized for those on welfare. The building was a site of pre-Olympic protests against the lack of housing. The Vision Vancouver majority city council rubber-stamped the proposal at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Solterra, whose vice-president is Mike Bosa, donated $25,000 to Vision, according to the party’s pre-election disclosure.

Once upon a time, Vision Vancouver wanted a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties.

Developer jailed

On the night before Christmas, residents of the Harbour Green luxury towers in downtown Vancouver, Wesbrook at the University of B.C. on Point Grey and River Green next to the Richmond Olympic Oval will be nestled all snug in their beds, as visions of sugar plums dance in their heads.

But not one of the developers of those properties. Billionaire Thomas Kwok was jailed for five years by a court in Hong Kong for corruption on Dec. 23. So was Rafael Lui, the special administrative region’s former chief secretary and target of Kwok’s corruption. In a nutshell, Kwok was convicted for a $1.67 million Canadian scheme that saw Lui become the “eyes and ears” inside the Hong Kong government for the Kwok family’s Sun Hung Kai.

Aspac Developments, a subsidiary of SHK, was the catalyst for Coal Harbour redevelopment and has prominent holdings at UBC and in Richmond. Aspac was also a sponsor of the British Columbia Canada House in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics.

Now we can say a Vancouver developer is in jail. Which is nothing to be proud of.

On the QC

Congratulations to all 32 lawyers on the annual Queen’s Counsel list for British Columbia, which was released Dec. 22.

Each year, the provincial government recognizes a handful of lawyers for merit and contribution to the legal profession. Leading the list is ex-Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal Lance Finch. Last on the non-alphabetically ordered list is Sara Levine of Alliance Lex Law Corp., and honourary permanent member of the board of advisors for the Freedom of Information and Privacy Association of B.C.

A notable name among the 32 is Dean Crawford of Coutts Pulver, who was elected president of the Canadian Bar Association in 2013 and specializes in labour and lobbying law. He is also fond of another L: the Liberal Party. Among other things, Crawford co-chaired the federal Liberals’ 2011 campaign in B.C. with Sharon Apsey and former cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal.

Crawford’s appointment follows the 2013 QC appointment of former BC Liberal caucus lawyer Clark Roberts and the 2011 appointments of Christy Clark leadership campaign co-chair Doug Eastwood and BC Liberal president Sharon White.

In January 2012, Lawyer Magazine called the annual QC appointments list “the most wonderful time of the year.”





One thought on “A parcel of belated Festivus grievances

  1. e.a. foster

    Its so nice to know Translink has all this money to build all this stuff. You do have to wonder where it is all coming from, because the provincial government is still mining for gold ($17M) in the pockets of children living at 50% below the poverty line. I’d suggest they stop building and ensure children don’t have to live in such poverty.

    Your post is well timed. This evening the news was reporting how many children are clients of the food banks in Surrey, 41%. Not a nice thing. The Food Bank in Vancouver said they had 23,000 clients. Both organizations are short of donations.

    it might be an idea if the provincial government spent less time and money on edifices to themselves and their friends and more time and money on the children of this province. of course I guess the children could take up begging at rapid transit stations.

    Gee to think Hong Kong made the discovery there was corruption in government/business and B.C. still hasn’t. Mighty interesting, but then ……..

    I thought Translink was in the transportation business. How interesting they have an “investment” arm. Nice empire building, and how nice to be able to reward one’s friends. Might be nice if we could bring over those anti corruption guys from Hong Kong, perhaps they could help the RCMP over here.

    Oh, well when all is said and done, the people of B.C. voted this bunch into office and now they can live with it. Its just too bad that the children of B.C. have to suffer from poverty so the B.C. Lieberals and their friends can keep themselves entertained.

    Good post, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.


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