Council Jumped the Gun in Selecting Developer: Former SODC Chair

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A file photo of SODC chair, Bill McNeney, and SODC manager Jonathan Silcox outside the Blue Barn in this 2011 file photo. Photo: Gagandeep Ghuman

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Nov 3, 2014

A former Squamish Oceanfront Development Corporation (SODC) director says the council didn’t follow process, acted in haste, and used incomplete information to select the Oceanfront developer.

“They jumped the gun on it,” said Bill McNeney, who volunteered as a SODC chair for five years.

“Our advice was you should wait until you get additional information but the council had made up its mind.”

In October last year, the two proponents, Newport Beach Partnership (collaboration between Matthew Southwest and Bethel Lands) and Solterra, made presentations to the SODC board.

The proponents gave a broad outline of their plan in presentations that lasted less than an hour: the initial plans, the purchase price, the timelines etc.

“I said you are being foolish, you should wait until you have more information.” Bill McNeney

But the crucial details—the development phases, who would provide services, whether proponents had financial capability—would come later in a term sheet, the board was told.

McNeney said the plan was to have the proponents make a similar broad-stroked presentation to the council and then come back to SODC a few weeks later with term sheets that contained those critical details.

“It was a negotiating tactic of having two horses in the race,” McNeney said.

The understanding was that after SODC and council had reviewed the term sheets, the SODC board would make a final recommendation to the council.

But McNeney said he was shocked when he found out the council had decided to select Newport Beach Enterprises, after an initial presentation and without seeing the detailed term sheets.

McNeney said he told the Mayor they were taking a major decision without a good ‘apple to apple’ comparison.

“I said you are being foolish, you should wait until you have more information,” McNeney recalls.

With critical details missing, the district placed the lever of power in the developer’s hand and weakened their own negotiating position, he added.

“If I was developing this, there was nothing to hold my feet to the fire now,” McNeney said.

The decision also angered Solterra, who were under the impression they would get one more round of presentation to provide details.

“Solterra was very angry and I sympathise with them because they never got a chance to make that presentation,” McNeney said.

The council also told the SODC board they would be taking control over the negotiations. All three members of the SODC resigned.

McNeney said the Oceanfront is a complex property with water, sewer and flood management issues to deal with and those critical details needed to be hashed out before choosing the developer.

“If the cost of servicing is two or three times the price of property, then is that on the back of the community?”

Coun. Doug Race said it wasn’t his understanding of the process. Both candidates presented their proposals and we made a decision and there was no doubt that there would be some detail work done after that to enter into a contract. But that was not necessary to chose the preferred proponent, Race said.

Kirkham said SODC conducted a ‘due diligence process’ following which the proponents delivered presentations to council on the proposals. Council then received expert feedback and it was clear the Matthew South West was the best proposal to deliver the sub-area plan. 

Bryan Raiser and Susan Chapelle didn’t respond to answers to questions about the former SODC’s chair’s concern.

Coun. Patricia Heintzman said the SODC board gave the council a very comprehensive evaluation of all the proponents, including the two that were deemed by SODC.

“The Matthews Southwest proposal was clearly a better proposal as was outlined by the SODC board, including chair McNeney,” she said.

McNeney he is surprised at Heintzman’s view because he recalls having discussions on how SODC was pushing for both proponents to complete a term sheet.

McNeney said he only hopes that selecting the developer without first figuring out phasing, servicing details, and financial capability won’t burden the tax payers.  

“I just hope the district doesn’t get taken to the cleaners on this,” he said.

Comments

  1. Jaime Duarte says:

    I just hope that non of the current council members get reelected ever again the same goes for the mayor.

    • larry mclennan says:

      And where was Heintzman- figuring out with Chapelle how to ban drive thrus? What about Prior ? Trying to figure out how this agreement allows him to profit from his land holdings in the area (can’t really blame him for that but was he even allowed to participate ?)? Was Sander even in attendance? Its enough to make one vote for Ron Baum.

  2. Squampton says:

    With Susan busy flip flopping and raiser drinking the koolaid, kirkahm and race pretty much handed the oceanfront to whomever they liked. Bloody shame if they came back.

  3. Angus Ramage says:

    ive got an idea Doug Day , why not buy the whole ocean front yourself and put a fence around it

  4. Angus Beef says:

    What a moron^

  5. Lolo says:

    Well, the good news is that property will stay as is for a few more years which is just fine with this long time resident.

  6. larry mclennan says:

    It would be interesting to have Solterra voice their view of the process. My view of the current Council is that most of them wouldn’t know good from bad when it comes to judging the merits of a SODC proposal . Also, Heintzman refers to some ‘…better proposal…” which the SODC board agreed to “…including chair McNeney”.. according to Heintzman. Either Heintzman is right and McNeney is wrong or visa versa. Well , where is it ?- Bill ? Patty ?

  7. Don Patrick says:

    Should never have accepted the property in the first place… givers are still laughing. Squamish is not in the big leagues… only assume they are…. a farce of all farces. Get rid of all the liabilities and let the animals shit all over the land for the owners of the day to deal… the respect level of Squamish citizens… want but not ready to accept reality.

  8. larry mclennan says:

    Yes Don , Squamish has suffered from poor decisions made by, especially, Sutherland & the Squamish New Directions slate-remember them? They got Squamish into this whole SODC mess- as well as the Adventure Centre. Don’t forget to add the lost tax base into the $11 million cost re: SODC plus the lost tax base on the Adventure Centre plus the annual subsidys. To the point- can and will the new council be as irresponsible as SND ? I presume Race will attempt to provide some sage guidance to this crew- lets hope.