Friday, September 17, 2010
BC Rail Trial: The stage was set for a real-estate boom along the Sea to Sky corridor.
BC Mary comment: Well, gosh and golly-gee, if this doesn't fit right into what Laila Yuile was saying!
Quote from Neal Hall's report Sept. 16 on testimony given at the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial in BC Supreme Court:
... After BC Rail was sold, Kenning recalled, the plan was to wind down the company after it sold up to $300 million of its real estate holdings, which was expected to take two years.
... On November 25, the B.C. Liberal government announced in a news release that it had reached an agreement-in-principle with the District of Squamish to transfer 29 hectares of BC Rail land to the district.
According to the news release, prospective plans for the BC Rail site include developing a full-service marina, a passenger ferry terminal, and cruise berths.
The government also announced that CN will “facilitate” upgrading of the Sea-to-Sky Highway and ensure rail alternatives for the 2010 Winter Olympics. McLean was a director of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation, which put together a successful bid to the International Olympic Committee.
The major provincial media continue focusing on the activities of political aides at the centre of the story. There has been little coverage of BC Rail’s waterfront property in Squamish.
As the District of Squamish proceeds, there will be no shortage of developers wanting to exploit the potential. B.C.’s biggest players, such as Concert Properties and Concord Pacific, may find such an opportunity irresistible on the eve of the 2010 Olympics.
Executives with both companies were huge supporters of the Olympic bid. Concert Properties chairman Jack Poole is now chair of the organizing committee that is staging the 2010 Winter Games.
The IOC’s endorsement last year set the stage for a real-estate boom along the Sea to Sky corridor ...
Laila's post is rich with detail HERE.
Think about it. First the railroad withdraws service from a community, putting businesses at risk due to increased difficulty in shipping product out and merchandise in. Then build a mall on the old railyard land and kill off the downtown/main street businesses. Now we're talking really enlightened planning, right!
This is especially heinous in light of the fact that in the future it will almost assuredly be necessary to restore rail service to these communities or else just abandon them - because unless something completely unimagined comes along, RAIL is the Future, for moving people and goods. The days of air travel and shipment of freight by highway are numbered. Trucking will still be necessary, but to move goods the last miles from the closest rail depot.
It is shameful that because of the clout of Big Oil and the auto industry that North America has let its rail infrastructure deteriorate as it has. Meanwhile Europe and Japan have been moving into the 21st century for decades and already have well developed and well USED high speed rail for moving people between cities.
It would have been so forward thinking and practical in the lead up to the Owelympics if instead of divesting itself of BC Rail and engaging in the expensive, destructive Sea to Die highway the railway to Whistler (and beyond) had been upgraded, at undoubtably lower cost. In the long term a rail connection from Vancouver to Whistler, that is also connected to the Via Rail system running up the coast from San Diego through Seattle would have served the people of the province MUCH better.
People could be moved faster and more safely between the city and ski hill by train, simultaneously solving parking problems at Whistler (cars left behind in Vancouver) and saving tired (and perhaps impaired from skiing at the Lodge) skiers from having to drive home. I know I would rather sit on a train having a snack, dinner or a drink than face a couple hours of driving apres-ski, even on the new improved Sea to Die highway.
Of course the improved rail access doesn't lend itself as well to exploitive real estate development - though in the long run for eventual commuters out that way, the rail option is better in the long run.
Unfortunately major policy decisions everywhere, and even more in BC, are made not on the basis of what is best for society or the population in general, or the planeet, but based on what is best for the pocketbooks of CERTAIN individuals - in BC, Gordo and his "friends!"
Frankly, I think that estimate of $300 million is very, very, very low.
Intentionally, or otherwise, it gives the impression that ... phtttt! ... there ain't no property there worth worryin' about.
Or did they simply give land away for $1.?
Omnitrax's Pat Broe through his Broe Companies is deeply involved with real estate:
He bought the port of Churchill, for a token C$10 from the Canadian government in 1997. For some, apparently, the tragedy of global warming and the retreating ice is perceived as the next Gold Rush.... oil, gas resource development, port of call for cruiselines. In 2006, Pat Broe, told The New York Times that he believed the port of Churchill could make him $100m a year.
Isn't that just dandy?!
This fine article by Laila at BC Mary's equally fine place also helps to explain the necessity for all those numerous real estate advisors who were greatly rewarded monetary-wise for their "consulting services" on the BC Rail deal/sale.
Paid for on OUR (the citizens of BC) dime!
And the very good point made about the history of land grants to the railway of some of the most valuable land in BC.
And speaking of "cold-blooded real estate development mind-set", how about that Timberwest touting itself on Cheknews ads as a "Timber and Land Management Company?
If you can't tell the difference between Asian characters, or read them, who knows what the BC Liberals have endorsed on our behalf.
2004/05 – 2006/07 SERVICE PLAN
Ministry of Transportation
Look for "The British Columbia Railway Company is a commercial Crown corporation" and look to the last line where its stated: http://www.bcrail.com.
I read it and see "BC Rail"
Maybe the PABsters are playing tricks with the taxpayers; maybe the PABsters see the light at the end of the tunnel, for themselves.