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

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

Sunshine Valley songbird releases EP

Fifteen-year-old Ashley Pater has been singing and performing since age 9

Rescue boat theft marks third in 3 years for Agassiz-based SAR team

Eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was stolen Friday night, found Saturday morning

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

B.C. cyclist races to first win of the season in New Zealand

Casey Brown captures Enduro title by more than two minutes at Crankworx Rotorua

Horse found stuck in muddy field rescued in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge firefighters set up a pulley system to drag the horse to solid ground

VIDEO: Two Maple Ridge contortionists have sights set on Cirque

The Pair competed at the Viva festival in Vegas and are now auditioning for spot on America’s Got Talent

Notorious Russian troll farm also took swipes at Canadian targets

Targets included oil infrastructure and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

Most Read