Thursday, July 10, 2008

 

RCMP reviewing new evidence on Powder Mt Ski Resort near Whistler. "We know that project was stolen from us" says Hartwick

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The Legislature Raids has received startling information, the past week. Perhaps none is more astonishing than the story of a battle which has gone on in plain sight in B.C., with few eye-witness reports. How many can recall Powder Mountain Ski Resort and its plans for the Callaghan Valley (near Whistler)? Thank goodness, there is always someone ... then another ... who can't forget. And so the story got picked up again in August 2007. Special thanks to "Igetit" who sent these two items as a comment. - BC Mary.
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Business in Vancouver August 14-20, 2007; Issue 929

Powder Mountain ski resort controversy exhumed in lead-up to 2010 Olympics - West Vancouver mother/daughter duo hoping RCMP investigation will get to bottom of Callaghan Valley dispute ...


An Expo 86-era scandal may live again on the road to 2010.

The RCMP is reviewing new evidence surrounding the aborted Powder Mountain ski resort in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler.

Proponents Nan and Dianne Hartwick, a mother-daughter West Vancouver duo, hope RCMP will investigate how and why the Callaghan is becoming a $120 million, taxpayer-funded Nordic sports venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

RCMP Commercial Crimes Insp. Kevin deBruyckere confirmed that a review is underway to determine whether to launch an investigation.

“We’re going to the wall on this,” said Dianne Hartwick, “because we know that project was stolen from us.”

Hartwick-owned Powder Mountain Resorts won a 1985 public call for proposals and gained approval in principle from government. Forests and Lands Minister Jack Kempf claimed Premier Bill Vander Zalm told him in 1987 to “cease and desist” with the Hartwicks and favour Callaghan Resorts Inc., which was backed by ex-Social Credit attorney general Les Peterson.

The B.C. Court of Appeal refused to overturn the B.C. Supreme Court’s 1999 dismissal of the Hartwicks’ breach of contract and abuse of office lawsuit. A special prosecutor’s criminal investigation was halted in 2003, just three weeks before Vancouver was elected 2010 host at the International Olympic Committee session in Prague. Because of insufficient evidence, no charges were laid.

The Hartwicks had visions of the Callaghan Valley becoming the sequel to Whistler. It’s remained an under-promoted playground for cross-country skiers and snowmobilers. Brad Sills’ Callaghan Country Wilderness Adventures opened a Nordic lodge there in 1998, just in time for the Canadian Olympic Committee’s selection of the Vancouver-Whistler bid over proposals from Calgary and Quebec City. Sills was an early campaigner for Olympic ski jumping, cross-country skiing, biathlon and Nordic combined to be held in the Callaghan.

Critics said West Vancouver’s Cypress Bowl could’ve been 2010’s temporary Nordic site for much less. The Callaghan won’t displace Calgary as the national training centre, but it could someday be what Cypress can’t be: a four-season destination resort with all the amenities enjoyed up the road in Whistler. The Hartwicks haven’t given up their dream. They claim backing from 75 private investors. Former Olympic downhill skier Todd Brooker is their vice-president of resort development. “We’re not against the Olympics; we’re against what has happened,” Dianne Hartwick said.

Where are they now

Who were the players in the Powder Mountain saga in the 1980s and where are they now?

Nan and Dianne Hartwick: Then: mother and daughter duo active in real estate with Social Credit party connections. Had provincial government approval to turn Powder Mountain in the Callaghan Valley into a ski resort until Premier Bill Vander Zalm intervened on behalf of a former attorney general. Now: still trying.

Bill Vander Zalm: Then: Social Credit B.C. premier from 1986 to 1991. Resigned after Fantasy Gardens conflict of interest affair. Now: retired.

Jack Kempf: Then: maverick Social Credit MLA for Omineca. Appointed lands minister by then-premier Bill Bennett in 1986 and assumed the same role in Vander Zalm’s cabinet until he was fired in 1987 over a travel expenses scandal. Died July 1, 2003.

David Emerson: Then: Vander Zalm’s deputy minister. Now: federal Conservative minister responsible for the 2010 Games.

Colin McIver: Then: attorney general’s ministry lawyer. Now: partner with Fraser Milner Casgrain. Represented VANOC in Callaghan Valley Nordic venue development.

Jack Hall: Then: Burnaby regional land office director. Later became vice-president of development and marketing for Land and Water B.C., the lead agency providing Crown land and water resources to VANOC. Now: director of Property Assessment Appeal Board and Real Estate Foundation of B.C.

George McKay: Then: was alpine ski development project manager for LWBC predecessor B.C. Assets and Lands Corporation in 1990s. Became director of the Callaghan Valley Master Plan during 2010 bid stage. Now: VANOC's director of environmental approvals. Also listed in B.C. Government Directory as tourism ministry's manager of special projects.


Anonymous Igetit said...

August 24/07 article from the Whistler Pique:

RCMP reviewing Callaghan Valley dispute, again
Powder Mountain Resorts hopes investigation will uncover past conflicts of interest, revive ski resort plans

By Andrew Mitchell

The proponents of Powder Mountain Resorts got a boost last week with confirmation that the RCMP is reviewing the facts of their case with an eye toward reopening an investigation into how their resort proposal was quashed 20 years ago.

Several other recreation tenures in the Callaghan Valley — site of the Nordic Centre for 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games — have since been awarded.

Business in Vancouver magazine reported the newest developments last week, and according to Nan Hartwick — who co-owns Powder Mountain Resorts with daughter Dianne — the possibility of a new investigation was welcome news.

"This is the third time that the RCMP have taken up this investigation, but this time, because of all the terrible conflicts of interest everywhere, we think this is something that should move ahead," she said. "We went through three different public proposal calls until we won the third one clearly. Now our lawyer is joining us for a meeting with the new provincial ombudsman to give him our information, and all the proven details. We haven't spent 20-some-odd years for nothing."

At the heart of the Hartwicks' complaint is the province's decision to award development rights to Callaghan Resorts in 1987, two years after Powder Mountain Resorts was the sole company to answer a request for proposal process to develop the area. According to Nan Hartwick the Forest Minister was about to approve their application when it was quashed by cabinet.

The province said they quashed the Powder Mountain proposal over doubts that the Hartwicks had sufficient financial backing, which Hartwick says was not the case. At the time they had more than 75 investors behind them, all of which continue to back Powder Mountain to this day.

Instead, the Hartwicks allege that cronyism was at play, and that then-Premier Bill Vander Zalm intervened on behalf of a friend who was involved in Callaghan Resorts.

What has followed is more than 20 years of legal wrangling, lawsuits and appeals that have so far been unsuccessful. During that period the province has issued several land use tenures in the Callaghan Valley — including Callaghan Country, Powder Mountain Catskiing and Canadian Snowmobile Adventures — and aided in the establishment of the Whistler Nordic Centre as a venue for the 2010 Games. All of it is illegal, according to Nan Hartwick, who asserts that Powder Mountain had an agreement in principle with the province.

"It's very important to repeat that we are not against the Olympics," she said. "We do think it's important for taxpayers to know that we never did ask for any government money, and we could have saved millions of dollars that were spent illegally in the Lower Callaghan Valley. We had the rights from the government, in documentation, to develop the entire valley, and still hold those rights."

Hartwick believes that her resort could have hosted some of the Nordic events on privately funded facilities, or that the events could have been hosted far more easily at Cypress Mountain.

She says the review will reveal that some of the same people who were involved in quashing her proposal in the 1980s are currently involved in the development of the Callaghan. If they can prove that conflict of interest as well as allegations of cronyism, Hartwick believes it will be a short leap to have the Powder Mountain Resorts' proposal for the area reinstated.

"We don't need another lawsuit, it's the commercial crime group of the RCMP that's working on this investigation," said Hartwick. "They're going over everything, the entire history and everything that has happened. We're counting on them to be able to prove what we know and have known for many, many years."

A previous criminal investigation by the RCMP was closed in 2000, shortly after the B.C. Court of Appeal dismissed a lawsuit for $5 million against Callaghan Resorts and others the Hartwicks allege were behind the decision to quash their resort proposal. Following the lost appeal, they applied to have their case heard at the Supreme Court of Canada — a process that is still ongoing.

Hartwick said the RCMP's decision to re-open the case is based on new evidence of conflict of interest.

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Comments:
Are there any more updates after Aug/07?
Also is this the same Callaghan Valley that was expropriated from the family of the same name in the late 60's or early 70's. I think that was a hydro expropriation. Another case where the people showed a less expensive route but their property was stolen anyway.
Hmm. Where have I heard that recently?
 
Sorry, upon reflection, that family I beleive was the Gallaghers. But it definately was a BC Hydro Expropriation.
 
"RCMP Commercial Crimes Insp. Kevin deBruyckere confirmed that a review is underway to determine whether to launch an investigation."

Whoops! What's this? A connection to Basi-Virk trial?
 
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