Friday, October 06, 2006
Sooke A.L.R. allegations
Allegations arise [4 April '06] from police raid on legislature
Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud
The police raid of the B.C. legislature two years ago has led to new allegations that a former government aide took $50,000 to help grease the wheels of a massive housing development in Sooke.
David Basi, former assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins, faces three counts of defrauding government and one of breach of trust. Two local developers linked to the 700-home Sunriver Estates project face the same four charges.
Basi allegedly took the money between Jan. 1, 2002, and Sept. 1, 2003, in connection with an application by Shambrook Hills Development Corp., also known as Sunriver Estates Ltd., to remove farmland from the agricultural land reserve.
Anthony Ralph (Tony) Young and James Seymour (Jim) Duncan are accused of paying the $50,000 to Basi. Duncan is listed in company records as one of the directors of Sunriver Estates, and Tony Young is listed on Sunriver's voice-mail directory at its Victoria office.
RCMP spokesman Staff Sgt. John Ward said the Sunriver charges stem from the Dec. 28, 2003, raid on the legislature. "This information came to light as a result of that investigation," he said.
Basi already faces other corruption charges linked to the raid. Search warrant documents released Monday allege he was paid about $24,000 by a lobbyist in exchange for government information and documents.
Basi, 39, appeared briefly in Victoria provincial court Monday on the new charges and was remanded to April 27, his lawyer Michael Bolton said.
"I can't say too much because I don't have any disclosure with regard to these charges," Bolton said. "But I can tell you that they seem to embrace an allegation that Dave Basi influenced a decision or decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission. And on behalf of Dave Basi, I can simply say that: No. 1, he had no connection with the Agricultural Land Commission ... No. 2, he had no ability to influence decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission and, thirdly, it is his position that at no time did he pretend to have influence on the decisions of the Agricultural Land Commission."
Neither Duncan nor Young could be reached for comment Monday.
But Norm Eden, one of the partners in the project, told the Times Colonist three years ago that Sunriver would probably average out at $250,000 a home over the life of the development, giving the 155-hectare subdivision a total built-out value of about $175 million. The Times Colonist story said the developers took about six months in 2002 to have some parts of the project removed from the agricultural land reserve, with 57 hectares left undeveloped as park, trails and green space.
Sooke Mayor Janet Evans expressed shock at the latest allegations. '"Oh no, oh no," she said, when told about them. "Oh dear. Well, that's not good. That's not good at all."
Evans, who was a councillor at the time, recalled Sunriver developers approaching council to remove the former Philip farm property from the land reserve about four years ago. She believes council passed the request along to the Agricultural Land Commission without a recommendation.
The commission allowed some of the land to be removed, Evans said. The developers then applied to council for rezoning and the development permit.
"It's a nice subdivision and we were thrilled to get it," she said. "There's still quite a bit of ALR land left in there, because the soil conditions were good, and that was our understanding when it was removed, that [the commissioners] have the expertise [on] what they took out and what they left in.
"Council, obviously, and the community, obviously, thought that that was a good project for us. And it's been successful. They've won some awards, and the district's got some beautiful parkland out of it, and trails and the school site. It's unfortunate if they went about it that way, if those accusations are true."
Agriculture Minister Pat Bell said a ministerial assistant in the Finance Ministry would have no influence on decisions by the Agriculture Land Commission. He said he has no plans to review the commission's work, noting that the RCMP have raised no concerns about the commission. "If the RCMP were to bring that forward to me, I'd be happy to consider that," he said.
You mean he was an over-achiever? ambitious? hard-working? flashy?
Of all of the allegations I find this one the most interesting as I think that each of the characters accused would be more than willing to sell out their buddies to try and save their own neck.
Somehow it doesn't seem right to me that Erik Bornman ... we think ... can tell his side of the story and get special treatment ... how does this work, anyway??