Solterra Offered $20 Million for Squamish Oceanfront

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Oct 4, 2014

District of Squamish has repeatedly declined information and councillors have scurried behind privacy laws to keep silent on the process through which the Oceanfront developer was chosen.

Was there indeed a ‘world-wide’ interest in the Oceanfront as claimed by the SODC in its media releases ? How many development companies made a bid for the Oceanfront? What were they offering?  How did the district ensure the process was transparent considering the buyer was a former SODC director at one point?

The entire process, from RFPs to the final selection, has been conducted behind closed doors.

Now information obtained by the Squamish Reporter reveals a Vancouver-based development with old ties to Squamish had offered close to $20 million in cash and property benefits to the district.

Solterra Group of Companies was one among the companies that was interested in developing the Oceanfront, but was rejected by the council in favour of a deal with the Matthew Southwest and Bethel Lands Corporation.

MSW and Bethel has offered the district $15 million in cash along with a ‘potential’ to participate in the profits, although district has yet to provide clarity on what that potential would look like.

The offer that Solterra had for Squamish, meanwhile, had three major components.

  1. Solterra offered $11 million in cash to the district, with $100,000 upon acceptance of offer.
  2. Solterra offered $9 million in land for the district to be used for education, community amenity and office and parking. (It’s not clear how much land they were willing to offer)
  3. Solterra would also build the Oceanfront Park and the Cattermole Slough Park.

As well, the company offered to work with the district to review all offsite services requirements for the waterfront lands.

Solterra’s vice-president Mike Bosa said the company was indeed a proponent for the Oceanfront, but refused to comment on the terms and conditions of the deal.

According to information available with the Reporter, Solterra was willing to pay $1 million up front, then another $3 million to repay the loan with the rest coming after a final deal had been signed.

District rejected Solterra and funded the loan payment from its reserve fund, which had $8 million dollars and now has only $5 million.Ironically, that $8 million came from the sale of a 20-acre property in the business park that district sold to Solterra in 2012.

Coun. Doug Race had said in a March council meeting that the money from the Solterra business park deal could be put towards SODC loan payment.

“It’s not a crisis,” he said.

The $3 million now must be repaid to the land sale reserve fund within the next five years. The second SODC loan payment is next year for the same amount and the final payment for the debt is at 2016 for $5 million.

Last month, Mayor Rob Kirkham promised to release more information on all Oceanfront proposals that came before the council and SODC board. Kirkham said the district is working on a deal with its chosen developers, but will be willing to release more information on who else answered the RFP for the Squamish Oceanfront besides the district’s chosen developer, Matthew Southwest and Bethel.

His promise to provide more information comes close on the heels of another FOI rejection by the district. A month ago, an FOI to seek information on developers who applied for the RFP was rejeceted by the district.

 

 

Comments

  1. Jean says:

    Doug …we will

    • Jon S. says:

      Auli? Sure let’s vote for someone who has a proven track record of running Whistler businesses into the ground.

  2. Donny says:

    Doug..we will.

    Solterra and the Bosa family have long and sound experience in the development business. Just look at the three towers at the Skytrain station on Main Street.
    Instead of them , council choose a band of unknowns in terms of capability who have offered a lousy deal for Squamish.
    One has to wonder why the Council are trying to hide the deal , their actions sure suggest skullduggery.
    No one on Council who supports this deal will get my vote.
    Doug for Mayor , I say.

  3. Nelson Winterburn says:

    I am very unhappy about the secrecy surrounding the SODC ‘deal’ council signed on our behalf. Council needs to throw out the MOU or what ever was signed in secrecy and take a closer look at what Bosa and company have to offer. Their track record is impressive. Rob and Mike would understand about loyalty and dumping Mathew Southwest and Bethel Lands in favour of a good deal for the citizens of Squamish.

    What other deals will council try to push through IN SECRECY while they still have a chance to do so ?