‘Should Have Told Community About Bethel Proposal’: Heintzman

Hutchison-MAIN

In a file picture above, Michael Hutchison, the prinicipal of Bethel Lands, and the district’s chosen developer for Oceanfront project.
Photo: Gagandeep Ghuman

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Nov. 16, 2013

In a rare yet fleeting mea culpa, District of Squamish officials admitted that they should have told the community about the proposal brought forward by Bethel Lands principal, Michael Hutchison, two years ago.

“Looking back, yeah, we should have absolutely got that information out.” Coun. Patricia Heintzman.

“Looking back, yeah, we should have absolutely got that information out,” said Coun. Patricia Heintzman.

As reported last week, Michael Hutchison brought forward a proposal in 2011 to finance the Oceanfront project while he was on the SODC board, asking for board control in return.

Heintzman spoke as acting mayor while Kirkham was away visiting Shimizu, Squamish’s sister city in Japan.

Addressing reporters last week in the mayor’s office, she said Bethel’s previous proposal was part of the ‘knowledge bank’ of those who were councilors at the time.

Her media meet followed shortly after a press release issued by the district clearing the air about Bethel’s previous proposal.

“The proposal was primarily rejected by council because it did not follow the necessary public process that any such solicitations for proposals would require,” according to the DOS press release.

The proposal from Bethel aimed to provide an interim financing option as a way to relieve some of the financial pressures that faced the Oceanfront development at that time, it continues.

“He (Hutchison) didn’t have to resign…he had the forethought to think I should at least step down.” Heintzman.

 “It was the responsibility of the SODC Board to bring any proposal of this type to council for consideration,” Heintzman said.

 “It was also justifiable for council to reject it in favour of a more objective, inclusive and broad-reaching process.”

In the same vein, Heintzman said the Oceanfront property has had several unsolicited offers before.

“I recalled that about ten years ago, there was a Chinese company that wanted to put Museum Park down there,” she said.

She strongly refuted suggestion that Hutchison had some insider information that he could have used as leverage to be the preferred proponent.

“Inside information is not used for land deals, it’s used for stocks or gaining shareholder advantage to make money on something,” she said.

According to the BC Corporate Act, Hutchison could have technically stayed on the board and made the offer, she added.

“He didn’t have to resign…he had the forethought to think I should at least step down,” she said.

She also said the community shouldn’t forget the good news part of the story: “We have a brand new international investor who has never spent a dime in Squamish and he wants to come and spend money here.”

She reiterated the MSW/Bethel proposal presented the best opportunity for Squamish to realize its vision of the Oceanfront Lands.

“Both partners have expressed a great deal of enthusiasm and energy for this project,” she said.

She also assured the community that information will be released as soon as it becomes available on the yet to start negotiations.

The decision to choose the developer came from the council, not SODC, she added.

SODC board was not asked to make a recommendation to ensure this remained a council decision, she said.

Comments

  1. Peter Legere says:

    “Inside information is not used for land deals, it’s used for stocks or gaining shareholder advantage to make money on something,” she said.
    Um………..Really? Patricia?

    “She also said we shouldn’t forget the good news part of this story: “We have a brand new international investor who has never spent a dime in Squamish and he wants to come and spend money here.” ”

    Cool, then you won’t mind sharing the details with us, the SODC shareholders, then……………………..Oh?????

    “She also assured the community that information will be released as soon as it becomes available.”

    HUH?? I’m confused????? How is it you know it’s such a good deal, then. Who told you?

    BTW, When are we going to find out where our 9 million dollars…..That’s
    NINE MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!!……went.

    Except for the $30 grand wasted taking me to the Supreme Court, of course.

  2. Don Patrick says:

    The sad part of all this crap is that council seems to be making the decisions, really is there anyone on council that has spent a cent of their own money making this town what it is and also having any expertise on the subject at all…. and secondly what is the level of expertise, when they cannot even get rid of employees that should not have been hired in the first place without giving away the chicken house…. oh my, oh my the kinder garden is running the school district again.

  3. heather gee says:

    Reading this article made me wonder if the media articles about ‘extensive oversea interests’ DoS reported on ever existed – other than the proposal 10 years ago….

  4. larry mclennan says:

    Bingo Peter. Isn’t it satisfying to know that we have such a brain trust managing our affairs. Speaking of wasting money- I wonder how much benefit to Squamish from that trip to Japan is going to show up at our door. Read some of the baffle gab provided in other interviews and stories pertaining to this proposal/situation-mind boggling.

  5. Larry Murray says:

    Hi Heather,
    Re the Asian company with Oceanfront interests 10 years ago…it was the folks from DisneyLand, Japan who visited and wanted to create a similar venture on our Oceanfront. I think I still have their business cards! And, yes, I do buy real estate with my own due diligence and as much local knowledge as possible….is that insider information? I also wonder how a government got into the development field? And….who was present on the SODC Board and enabled the debt to escalate?

  6. LArry McLennan says:

    Larry 1 to Larry 2- also , with respect to debt , how much ofthe board’s expenses have been capitalized? Again, just for 2012 year- how about producing a detailed trial balance available to us, the Hoi Polloi , for review? I , for one , would like to see how $600,000 was spent for capital improvements on the SODC. Don’t forget it was the “Squamish New Directions” group who got us suckered into this morass- why, with respect to Heintzman’s responses to the questions, do I get the impression of shared confusion on the part of Council?

  7. Don Patrick says:

    Do people really think that if someone was interested in the SODC lands they would reveal their intentions next to their corporate logo… give your head a shake, it really does not mean anything until there is true intent… letters of interest etc are just preliminary tasks and the interested firms will hire agents under an assumed name to do the fact finding tasks for a dollar and it is no ones business but the applicator…ever been in the business of buying a few 747’s ?, no one knows who the potential buyers are until a letter of intent and dollars are on the table.. it is not wise to let your competitors know your intentions….. lets stop the conspiracy theories and get into the real world.

  8. Peter Legere says:

    Fair enough, Don, but why is it not transparent where the 9 million went? For instance, it would explain a lot if some of it went to paying municipal taxes. Westmana had to pay taxes on their portion of the peninsula for the DECADE they waited. It put them out of business! Was this perhaps deliberate? I used to think the Municipal Government was merely morbidly incompetent. Now I am beginning to suspect corruption.

    I am told the high-priced help at Sodcorp is the same group responsible for the Skyline to Nowhere. This project was developed simultaneously to their tenure at Sodcorp. As a developer who knows the overwhelming pressure planning a development puts on ones time and attention, I have to wonder how much effort went into the job we paid them handsomely for, and how much went into the “pet” project.

    Rumour has it that some of the SODC borrowed money went toward a study of aerial tram possibilities between the Peninsula and the Chief. Is it possible that this study was commissioned because some of the data would translate across to the simultaneous Skyline to Nowhere project?

  9. LArry McLennan says:

    Hey Donnie- don’t you think that providing some of the requested details on where the capitalized costs originated would help quell the “conspiracy theories” you allude to? The closed door attitude of SODC with respect to the aforementioned requests doesn’t help any. So far the only head shaking has been from SODC et al with respect to the requests.

  10. Wolfgang W says:

    As another accountant who knows a few things about process and disclosure, I agree with Larry. Taxpayers deserve to know the details of what the money was spent for. Disclosure will quell most conspiracy theories.

  11. Spencer Fitschen says:

    Insider information is not used for land deals?!?! Patty, you know better than that.

    Why is it that this admission complete with a hard to swallow explanation only comes out after the mayor leaves town? What else is being held back that the community should have been told about?

    I am still trying to wrap my head around how we got to a deal on this land. They are not just short-listed, they are the ones! We only have to work out all of the financial details. I wonder what the negotiations are going to cost us?

    Sorely disappointed

  12. LArry McLennan says:

    Take a look at what the $600 K of capital expenditures for 2012 was spent on and ask yourself what and how much, if anything , these costs had to do with the SODC’s mandate for capital expenditures. It has the appearance that costs which should have been attributable to District (not SODC) expenditures where being paid out of the SODC loan/LOC funds-ie the District was using the SODC funds as a cash cow. Is this allowed and proper? I would think that if these costs were attributable to the District and there wasn’t sufficient funds to incur them , then the District would have to do some “debt ceiling” motions to get the expenditures properly approved. Did this happen?