Recently, the PNR published letters from authors Harrison, Gartshore , Doman and Councilor McMurphy, all of them highly critical of the initial refusal of Sandown by Councillors Browne, Mearnes, McBride and Daly. Their letters displayed their ignorance of, or refusal to acknowledge the true facts of the Sandown deal and in Councillor McMurphys’ case, a callous disregard for the taxpayers’ wallet.
Sandown had been for sale for some time with an asking price of $10 million. The appraised value as is, is $3.9 million (owners’ appraisal 2013).
The value of the 12.5 acres rezoned to commercial is $11 to $12 million (owners’ appraisal 2013). The value of the residual land is $2.7 million (Districts’ appraisal 2013).
In order to remove 12.5 acres of ALR land, the applicant must include at least an equal portion of land back into the ALR. There was, and is, only one parcel of land in North Saanich which meets the test and that parcel is owned by the taxpayers of North Saanich.
Sandown owners had two options: sell the land intact for the appraised value of $3.9 million, or sell the individual parcels, (to whom and for what price) or they could attempt to strike a deal with North Saanich to get the 12.5 owned by the District to replace the parcel to be re-zoned commercial, and walk away with $12 million.
The reality of high stakes real estate generally entails hard negotiation. To take the first deal offered, as the letter writers suggest, would have been foolishly naive and costly.
Fortunately for the taxpayer, the four councillors possess a high degree of business savvy and knew that it was highly probable that the Sandown owners would come back to the table with a better offer in order to achieve their $12 million prize.
These four, much maligned councillors have demonstrated temperance and common sense and the deal is done. They have saved the taxpayer over three-quarters of a million dollars already, in this first phase of what will be ongoing costs associated with the Sandown project.
Please remember when casting votes next year that grand visions are all very well, but they require practicality, persistence and a balance sheet to become reality.