Editorial: Remove veil from public land sales

Last week two Victoria city councillors hosted a forum on selling public land.

Last week two Victoria city councillors hosted a forum on selling public land to help highlight decisions coming down the pipeline – the potential sale of industrial property surrounding the Point Hope Shipyard and land near the Northern Junk building.

Councillors Ben Isitt and Shellie Gudgeon asked the question: what degree of disclosure and consultation is appropriate?

When it comes to real-estate deals, transparency should trump secrecy when it comes to managing public assets.

Ralmax Group of Companies, owner of Point Hope Shipyard and United Engineering, is interested in buying a number of city lots it currently leases, to help provide certainty for expansion plans along Harbour Road.

This proposal makes economic sense and there is no reason why Victoria shouldn’t consider the offer. But at the same time, the city needs to find a mechanism to keep its citizens in the loop – that such proposals exist shouldn’t be the result of rebellious city councillors using process to release the information to the public.

Land sales are usually wrapped in secrecy (discussed behind closed doors) until the deal is done, allowing little or no public input on disposing of public land. The recent provincial proposal to sell Provincial Capital Commission land highlights the arrogance of playing fast and loose with public property.

After its last budget, the government announced it would sell an undisclosed number of PCC properties, which range from parking lots and prized downtown buildings, to blocks of forest on the Trans-Canada Highway approach into the city. There wasn’t a whiff of public process in the decision.

Once public land is sold, it’s expensive and difficult to acquire other land, especially in the Capital Region. View Royal, for instance, paid more than $2 million for 2.4 acres of land for a new fire hall.

Municipal councils and senior governments need to have policies that give the public disclosure and input. Residents deserve to know decisions being made in their names.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria teachers experienced more than 30 incidents of violence from students in one month

Shuttered behavioural programs, lack of resources creates challenges for local schools

Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

Canadian provinces and territories collectively achieved less than half of their potential to reduce alcohol related harm

Esquimalt High robotics team heads to international competition

The Esquimalt Atom Smashers will participate in the FIRST Robotics Canada competition

Island playoffs underway at Oak Bay High

Home team vies for fifth straight Island title

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Federal fisheries minister calls for precautionary approach to fish farming

Government still reviewing Federal Court’s decision on PRV – Wilkinson

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

Most Read