Where Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) Spent Your Money

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By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Aug 4, 2014

Where did millions of tax payers dollars go?

It’s a question about the SODC finances that has haunted the public conscience for many years now. After resisting an answer, the district has finally produced a document that manages some idea of how the money was spent.

The latest tranche of documents released by the district reveal the total expenditure from 2005 to 2013 for SODC was $11.4 million dollars.

The year of the highest expenditure was between the years from 2009 to 2011. This period, the district claims, involved activities that focused on the business plan and public process of developing a sub area plan.

The year 2011, with close to $2.5 million spent, recorded the highest expenditure.

Land remediation and improvement, followed by land use planning and debt interest accounted for the top three expenditures.

Here are some of the year-wise developments.

Land acquired from the province: 2004

SODC hires CEO, creates RFP: 2005

SODC selects Qualex, present MOU: 2006 ($1.7 million)

District starts sub area plan: 2007 ($2.5 million)

New council, board elected: 2008 ($3.3 million)

Oceanfront business plan adopted: 2009 ($5.1 million)

SODC refinances with district, sub area plan finalizes: 2010 ($ 7million)

Sub-area plan adopted, new council elected: 2011 ($9.5 million)

Shareholders direct SODC to market lands: 2012 ($10.6 million)

SODC issued a request for expression of interest:  2013 ($11.5 million)

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To its credit, the district has provided detailed summaries of expenditure by vendors and supplies. The documents show land planning consultants and remediation companies were the biggest beneficiaries.

Over $2.8 million, for example, was spent on land remediation, with land remediation and ground water monitoring taking the lion’s share.

The second biggest share of the debt fell to land planning, with sub-area planning and environmental approvals accounting for nearly $1 million.

Interest on debt was the third biggest expenditure, with SODC paying a whopping $295,136 in interest charges in 2013. Salaries and expenditures came fourth on the list of biggest expenses, with close to $1.4 million spent in salaries, honorarium payments, and expense reimbursements.

A New Deal for Squamish

District recently announced the selection of a partnership between Matthews Southwest and Bethel Land Corp. Details are sketchy, but the developers will pay $15 million cash purchase price, leaving the district with $4 million as profits.

The district also retains a 25 per cent interest in the partnership with no financial risk and a potential to participate in future profits.

The district also maintains the development is not expected to negatively impact the district’s ability to build and maintain infrastructure and services.

The district also hopes to complete the sale and purchase agreement for SODC lands this summer.

Even though the district has released new data, it still keeps a shroud of secrecy around the process by which the present developer was selected.

In response to an FOI filed by the Reporter about the selection process for the developer, the district refused to reveal any information.

The Reporter has now filed a complaint with the Information and Privacy Commissioner.