VICTORIA — Four years after the B.C. Liberals sold 14 parcels of land in the Burke Mountain area of Coquitlam for a fire sale price, Auditor General Carol Bellringer weighed in Tuesday with an account of what went wrong.

She found the government made a fundamental mistake by allowing would-be buyers to submit a grab bag of bids, some for individual parcels, some for the group.

The rationale was a misplaced hope for greater competition. Instead the Liberals were left groping in the dark, unable to optimize the bids for each parcel or obtain the best price for the offering as a whole.

“Had government required bidders to provide a breakdown for each parcel of the bidding process,“ wrote Bellringer, “it would have been better able to identify low bids for individual parcels and compare parcel bids.”

The error was an expensive one for taxpayers. In the absence of a proper analysis, the Liberals ended up selling the roughly 150 hectares of land to a single buyer for $85 million, two thirds of the value established by an independent appraisal.

The Liberals must have known they were unloading the 14 parcels for $43 million less than they were worth. When they signed off on the sale in February 2014, they had in hand the appraiser’s report putting the value at $128 million.

“The appraisal was timely in relation to the sale of the land,” says Bellringer. “The quality of the appraisal work was appropriate, and the appraised values for the parcels of land were reasonable.”

Knowing the shortfall, why didn’t the Liberals cancel the sale and do a proper one?

I’m guessing it was because the transaction, like other land sales at the time, was part of a rush-job effort by the government of then-premier Christy Clark to try to balance the budget.

The prime beneficiary at the …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Politics


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