Ring Ring Ring.( W-H-O’s there ???)
Last week….I heard the doorbell ring….
It was rather odd, as it was from our back door, it was dark out, approx. 8 PM and we didn’t have a light on.
Anyway…we opened the door , guns drawn (…..naaaah just kidding ) and standing at the door was a party I had met years ago, a South Asian gent who calls himself Jack. Jack is a real nice person,in his 60’s , calm , polite…and he wanted to seek my advice on something that seemed to deeply trouble him.
NOTE: Remember the West Cambie Plan I discussed in a few previous posts.????..whereby the South East corner of the area (approx 13 acres) had a designation as a Park when the West Cambie OCP plan was drafted and passed, but the City is now amending the original plan to remove the park designation and allow for Multi – family residential ?.
Recall l previously stated the whole thing was very fishy…as what purpose is a “plan”, given Richmond’s past practice of taking such large sections and zoning the areas proportional to the Cities own self – deemed requirements. As stated, the West Cambie plan had estimation of a population of “X” …and thus a park requirement of “Y” …..and within the given area…..or so we thought was the OCP plan.
Long story short…..Jack owns a home ( approx. 1 acre ) in that same 13 acres in West Cambie designated as “park”, talk about small world. I knew this for a while , actually been to his home a few times.
Jacks’ problem ?
Jack smells a rat ……and told me his tale of woe…
Early this year, Jack was approached by a party to buy his West Cambie property. The story is rather long and convoluted, as Jack’s English is not perfect. This party was Asian..and was in the area “to buy up some of these properties”. He had contracts ready to sign, but was claiming he had to leave soon on a trip to China( thats usually first warning sign…usually a BS story to put on pressure to sign quickly ). Then Jack found out that this person was fronting for a local South Asian party, who was optioning a few of the properties in the 13 acres.
Then the kicker….within a week or so after Jack signed a sales agreement…came word that the City was looking at changing the OCP on these 13 acres from ” Park ” to “ High – Density residential. “
After I heard the story, I then discussed it with Jack.
Jack was quite upset and wanted to protest with a sign outside City Hall. I advised him he “could”, but it would be a waste of time with this issue, and may cause him problems if he was not familiar with the law. I suggested he go to the media, but he said he tried, and , in essence, the brushed him off with excuses , thus NOT to pursue it.
What I did say was that the Cities own documents stated that at the time…..the cost of the parkland would be $28 Million.
Now , acording to Jack…land in the area is going for $ 5 Million ( FIVE MILLION DOLLARS ) an acre…He told me that he was offered and he had accepted a price below this , not knowing that the City was going to change the OCP, and AFTER he had gone to City Hall to inquire about the OCP. The City confirmed to him the status quo for these West Cambie properties, ie they would be Parkland.
I have to admit, I asked him why he sold…ie did it not seem “strange and suspicious” that a person that did not represent the City , the only supposed purchaser, came and made offers ? What private purchaser buys land zoned for public use?
Regardless, on a point of principal, this is not the first time I have heard about people inquiring of the City re: the OCP , and changes in the near future…told “NO CHANGES”, they sell their property, and lo and behold , changes and amendments shortly afterward .
So, what Jack and I have surmised, is SOMEBODY HAD INSIDE INFORMATION of the changes in the West Cambie OCP and tried to assemble and lock up land.
Jack’s deal was signed in January, 2012 and closes at the end of Oct, 2012. He also told me that a major developer had approached him AFTER the proposed changes were announced.
Now, if $5 MILLION per acre is the market price….one can see that the City’s original estimate of $ 28 Million for the 13 acres would now be approx $65 Million. Do you see how stupid, if not outright corrupt , this all is ?.
I have cited this before….via along long drawn out experience in my own neighborhood, but the City or any other public body, once it places a public use type of designation in an OCP, is obligated to pay market price for the land.
EXAMPLE: If the city takes 100 acre parcel…drafts and passes a new OCP, lets assume 10 acres for Park and 90 acres for 4 storey condos. If the average market price for land within that OCP is $ 100 per sq. ft. for condos….this establishes a benchmark for land values within this OCP. Thus, the City would be obligated to pay $100 per square foot for the 10 acres designated for Park. If a person whose land was designated as park approached the City, the City would be obligated to purchase it at that current market price of $100 per sq ft……or the issue could be forced in court.
However, you have to know this….and the City relies on ignorance of the public….thus the city gets a free ride.
What I told Jack is in my opinion, he has no recourse re the sales agreement he signed , BUT should perhaps look at what the City did.As far as I am concerned….the City is trying to extricate itself from a market price commitment of $65 Million with a smoke and mirrors trick. Because they did not buy him out….and that they told him the OCP would not change, he was ripe for the plucking. IMHO, he and his neighbours should be compensated for the difference of what the actual market price was at time of sale…..the City should be held accountable for their actions via this flip flop, as these properties were tied up and frozen for approx. 6 years with a park designation.
From what Jack told me….this purchaser, via the inside information, assembled a few other properties, and could make several million dollars simply by flipping the paperwork. Does that not stink, perhaps bear an investigation ? ,….what might that uncover ? Are people at City Hall getting bribed….?
Yes I know that these people like Jack , still did quite well, but that’s not the point,….we have to demand fairness and equity for A-L-L or one day it will be OUR turn to be screwed over by this treacherous and treasonous City.