Finance Minister Mike de Jong presents his second balanced budget in 2014

B.C. land sales reached election target

Finance Minister Mike de Jong releases details of two-year surplus land sale that helped him balance two provincial budgets

The B.C. government has released details of its pre-election property sales, showing it came out with more money overall than appraisals or B.C. Assessment Authority values forecast.

Opposition critics called for the disclosure after obtaining government memos that showed a rush to make the deadline for the 2013-14 fiscal year, where the B.C. Liberals campaigned on a balanced budget tabled before the 2013 election.

NDP critics highlighted property in Coquitlam that sold for millions less than an appraiser estimated it would get.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong said the 14 Burke Mountain properties are an “outlier” in the dozens of land sales that closed during the finance ministry’s budget-balancing program. Later appraisals by the City of Coquitlam identified steeper terrain and streams with protective setbacks that limited their development, decreasing their market value by 20 per cent overall.

Wesbild, the buyer of the Burke Mountain properties, said it paid fair market value.

Development property south of the B.C. legislature beat its appraisal by $13 million, selling for $34 million to help the government meet a $350 million target to end the fiscal year.

A former hospital site in Surrey was sold for $20.5 million, $3 million less than its B.C. Assessment Authority value for property tax purposes. Finance ministry records showed the sale price was midway between two appraisals, one commissioned by the government and the other by the buyer.

De Jong said surplus Crown property is sold every year, with about 1,500 properties disposed of in the last 30 years. They will continue, but there won’t be another identified program in future budgets now that post-recession deficits have ended, he said.

NDP finance critic Carole James said there was an obvious rush to meet ministry targets for asset sales, and some could continue to be sold below market value without the public knowing.

Many of the surplus properties are school sites, and there are other transactions with municipalities.

 

Just Posted

Police stay quiet on downtown fire investigation

The fire at Victoria’s Plaza Hotel was deemed suspicious on May 14

Former Saanich councillor joins Cordova Bay community association board

Leif Wergeland served on Saanich council for 22 years before retiring from politics in 2018

Cyclists and drivers take to the streets Wednesday morning in first official Bike to Work Week celebration

The 25th annual Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week kicks off the followingMonday, May 27

Police arrest jewelry thieves in same building they allegedly stole from

More than $6,000 worth of jewelry was recovered

Coastline serves up a feast of fiddlers in Oak Bay

Local Juno Award winner musical director for ensemble

VIDEO: Fun without sun: Hundreds enjoy Family Fest on Victoria Day

Families enjoy activities in Veterans Memorial Park

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are prepared

Only 46 per cent of British Columbians have prepared an emergency kit with supplies they might need

B.C. man to pay Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party $20k over lawsuit

Federal judge shut down Satinder Dhillon’s ‘nonsensical’ motion to bar use of PPC name in byelection

RCMP searching for missing Vancouver Island teenager

16-year-old Lasheena Seward was reported missing from a group home in Port Alberni

Sitting and sleeping on downtown sidewalks could net $100 fine in Penticton

The measure, which still requires final approval, would be enforced between May and Sept. 30

B.C. man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

Most Read