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

Local athlete nominated for top B.C. award

Charlie Kain has been involved with Special Olympics since he was 11

Column: Have your say on library funding

Provincial funding for libraries has been stagnant for 10 years

Warming centre overshadows cannabis store at Monday council session

Council also heard about disk golf, city park camping and an RDKB housing survey

Entrepreneurs faced ‘sink or swim’ decision after flood

Grand Forks businesses left with little direction a year after the flood

Christina Lake clean-up a success

A wheelchair, cigarette butts and old tires filled the back of a truck headed to the dump

VIDEO: Huge crowds gather in downtown Toronto for Raptors parade

Mayor John Tory declares it ‘We The North Day’ after team’s historic NBA title win

Feds announce $50M strategy to fight dementia

Emphasis is on prevention and and supporting caregivers

Federal Liberals’ plan to help first-time homebuyers to kick in weeks before election

Ottawa to pick up 5% of a mortgage on existing homes for households that earn under $120,000 a year

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Most Read