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. [manual_related_posts]
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.