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New report confirms former BC government sold off surplus real estate too cheap

Last Updated Jul 10, 2018 at 3:44 pm PST

Burke Mountain crown land parcels (auditor general rendering)

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The hits keep coming for the former BC Liberal government in the wake of last month’s scathing report on money laundering.

The latest report by Auditor General Carol Bellringer shows several Crown-owned properties were sold off for only two-thirds what they were worth to help balance the budget between 2013 and 2015.

“With the focus being the singular, more of a concentration on generating revenue rather than also looking at whether there were cost savings attached to it and assessing potential economic activity.”

Bellringer says “It should have had the breakdown in the bidding received from those that were interested in purchasing the land….The bids that were received, some were not broken down that way and they didn’t request that and that’s exactly what we are pointing out they should have done.

Current Citizen Services Minister Jinny Sims is calling out her predecessors for failing to properly assess values.

“You’ve got an offer that comes in from one buyer that’s at only 66 per cent of the assessed value and you don’t even wait for other offers? So, to me, it was an abject failure in good governance and good stewardship.”

Sims adds changes have already been made to ensure surplus assets are not sold off at a bargain price simply to meet revenue targets.

“I look at a city like Surrey, very fast-growing, where we have [more than] seven thousand students sitting in portables because the Liberal government –they kept selling the land that we could build schools and hospitals on. I will never say no property’s ever going to be sold because there might be some small property or part of a property that it makes good sense to sell, but it behooves us to do that full analysis for the sake of generations to come…. Once you sell the house you live in, or the piece of land you own, it’s very, very difficult to buy it again in the future. What you’re actually selling off then, is the heritage for your children, as well.”

The Opposition Liberals have issued a statement thanking Bellringer for her report and suggesting money collected from assets sold between 2012 and 2015 helped pay for health and education services.