By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Sept. 6, 2014
Mayor Rob Kirkham has promised to release more information on all Oceanfront proposals that came before the district 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 districts 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, the Reporter filed an FOI to seek information on developers who applied for the RFP. [manual_related_posts]
The FOI request was to find “all records” related to evaluation of offers for SODC. The request was rejected by the district. In its reply, the district said: The letter is to advise you that records related to your request have been withheld as the information has been received and discussed in closed meetings.
Kirkham sounded a positive note on the Oceanfront, starting with the partnership itself. He said the limited partnership with the developers meant the district will have the opportunity to receive a 25 per cent profit.
“It’s a limited partnership, so there are no chances to being called upon to inject money or to be liable or responsible for any financial implications,” he said.
Kirkham said while onsite infrastructure is the developer’s responsibility, any offsite infrastructure that benefits others in the community will come out of the common DCC (Development Cost Charge) fund.
The district is updating its DCC bylaw, but there are also plans to upgrade infrastructure in the downtown core. Development of SODC Lands, the district says, will ‘expedite’ infrastructure development and key upgrades to the downtown core.
There isn’t any clarity either on what the developer is willing to offer as far as Development Cost Charge (DCC) is concerned. The district is working to upgrade its DCC bylaw is a condition for sale.
It’s a similar story with community amenity contribution bylaw. There isn’t any information available because the district has yet to create a community amenity contribution bylaw. The developers will, however, benefit from the district’s new tax exemption bylaw, which offers developer tax incentives to encourage development downtown.
Kirkham said the district went to the international market place and investors to participate and deliver the plan.
“We have good financial capabilities, and a motivated developer to bring that to reality,” he said.
That isn’t assessment Larry Murray, the former director of SODC, will agree to.
The pending sale of 59 acres and 44 acres of waterlots is a concerning issue for a community that deserves so much more, he said.
Murray said it would be worthwhile for councilors running again to begin to distance themselves from the deal and start calling for a full review and reconsideration of this ‘deal’.
“A much smaller municipal lot in the industrial park across from Toyota was recently sold for $8 million,” he said.
Coun. Ted Prior, who wasn’t allowed to participate in the discussions surrounding the Oceanfront deal, said he has his reservations about this deal.
“When you have a past directory vying for it, seems to me there is a conflict there,” he said.