Lobbyist at the NPA

NPA nomination contest for Vancouver seat marked by controversy

FILE PHOTO Glen Chernen, shown here on January 20, 2014, is challenging to be the NPA candidate in Vancouver’s coming civic byelection. Wayne Leidenfrost / PROVINCE

A would-be Vancouver city council candidate has lobbed a political grenade into the Non-Partisan Association’s nomination meeting Wednesday, asking the civic party to remove energy company lobbyist Hector Bremner from its nominee ballot.

NPA members will vote Wednesday to select a candidate to run in the upcoming Vancouver city council byelection, in which a number of civic parties are vying to fill the seat vacated by former Vision councillor Geoff Meggs.

On Tuesday, Glen Chernen — one of three potential nominees on the NPA ballot — filed a complaint asking party executives to oust Bremner, the party’s apparent nomination front-runner.

Bremner is a former B.C. Liberal candidate who worked in various roles in 2014 and 2015 for former deputy premier Rich Coleman, government records show.

Chernen told Postmedia his complaint points to Bremner’s lobbyist registration for Vancouver-based energy company Steelhead LNG. The February 2015 public filing shows Bremner indicated he “is not a former public office holder.”

According to B.C. lobbying laws, the definition of public office holder includes employees of the government of B.C. and people who work as staff for MLAs.

“I have asked the NPA to remove Hector Bremner for the good of the party,” Chernen said. “I’m asking this based on inconsistencies and potential false declarations concerning his employment history working for Rich Coleman at the Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Housing, and lobbyist disclosures while Hector was lobbying for Steelhead LNG.”

On Tuesday Jane Zatylny, spokeswoman with the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists for B.C., told Postmedia she couldn’t disclose “whether or not this office is conducting an investigation or hearing.”

“I can tell you that we are aware of the issue and are looking into it,” Zatylny stated in an email.

Bremner said that any suggestions that he broke B.C.’s lobbying disclosure rules are “complete nonsense.”

“I’m sure they (the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists) will look into it and quickly see it is a baseless allegation,” Bremner said.

Bremner confirmed that he worked for Coleman and said he left the job in January 2015. Bremner said he made a mistake in an online employment profile in listing when he stopped working for Coleman’s office.

“It was just an error on my LinkedIn profile, and Glen is trying to spin it into a capital case,” Bremner said.

Bremner added that his campaign has “worked very hard” to sign up hundreds of new NPA members, and he believes Chernen’s campaign has challenged the standing of some members that allegedly listed addresses at a Sikh place of worship, rather than home addresses.

“We may have had some data entry errors,” Bremner said. “It’s complete nonsense … I think that people that are not Caucasians are being targeted.”

In a brief phone call NPA president Sarah Weddell told Postmedia the only thing she could say about Chernen’s complaint is: “Our green light committee is reviewing the information.”

scooper@postmedia.com

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20180105033505/http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/npa-nomination-contest-for-vancouver-seat-marked-by-controversy

 

 

 

Take our city back! Elect Glen – Mailout #2

Dear NPA member,

I’m a proud Canadian with solid roots in Vancouver and you can feel safe that I will be looking out for the best interests of you and your family.

 

I want to offer my years of experience in investment and financial analysis, to guard your best interests at city hall. The time of backroom deals and Vision Vancouver cronyism has to end and i’m just the guy to make it happen.

 

And now, at the urging of many of the party faithful, I am honoured for the chance to run as the NPA Party Council candidate.

 

Now is the time to bolster our existing NPA Councillors with someone that can actually help them and the public. Now is the time to elect someone who has been fighting for our community. Now is the time to elect a Councillor with years of experience identifying financial irregularities. Now is the time to elect someone to help take our city back!

 

On the other hand, Gregor Robertson’s priority these days seems to be jetting off to foreign destinations while preaching about reducing emissions. Meanwhile his squad of transportation wizards are intent on continuously messing up our roads as Vision mismanage his quiet firesale disposition of the City’s valuable real estate. Vision has been a total disaster. Despite this, the NPA has had a tough time keeping them accountable and now is not the time to elect an unknown candidate like Mr. Bremner who actually seems to be dancing to the same tune as our Mayor, with his own ideas to dramatically increase densification.

 

Hector Bremner has said he wants to replace every single door with 30 new doors, which does not sound much different than Vision. But he neglects to say at what cost? How we are supposed to believe he disapproves of the current administration when he sounds the same? Hypocrisy will confuse voters and become an NPA liability. The NPA does not have the luxury to gamble on this type of candidate when the public are outraged with this type of thinking.

 

In the last 9 years under Vision we have seen the Burrard Bridge constantly under renovations and construction, which makes me very concerned about their plans for the viaducts. There can’t be a single Vancouver voter who believes this outrageous Viaducts land disposal idea can be accomplished without imposing massive traffic gridlock for at least a decade and increase your taxes? Voters don’t want the Viaducts dismantled and our roads further clogged up, so you should elect a candidate that understands this. I suggest you ask my competitors if they think we should leave the viaducts alone.

 

Voters want the experience and integrity I have to protect you from ill conceived plans that would cost you dearly. I am the only NPA nominee who can appeal to all voters in all areas of this City enough to deliver election victory.

 

With the support of NPA members I will win a new NPA seat in Council where I will work with NPA Councillors, Affleck, DeGenova, and Ball to level out the playing field for everyone, and point Vancouver back in the right direction.

 

A Vote for me on Wednesday September 6th is a vote for the safe candidate.
Let’s take our city back! – and have yourself a great, safe long weekend.

 

Sincerely,

Glen Chernen

NPA Council Nominee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GLEN CHERNEN ANNOUNCES CITY COUNCIL CANDIDACY

  • CONSIDERING NPA NOMINATION
  • CHERNEN CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES WEBSITE – visit www.glen2017.ca

Glen Chernen is seeking a seat on Vancouver City Council in the upcoming October 14, 2017 by-election to replace Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs. Glen has been encouraged by many supporters to run with the NPA and Glen is strongly considering that option. Glen Chernen founded and ran with the Cedar Party in 2014. After the 2014 election he withdrew his Cedar involvement and membership.

Glen is running to provide a viable winning choice to provide a Council member with independent thought, an eye for detail, and who will demand accountability from the City. Glen feels that Vancouver is being harmed by bad recommendations and bad management by top City officials, that appear designed to benefit investors. Glen has been unrelenting in his push for honesty, integrity and transparency from the City of Vancouver and will continue pushing from Council for a strong ethical foundation that benefits you and your community.

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Assessment Review

Oakridge group asks court to review assessment decision

An artist’s rendering of the redevelopment of the Oakridge Centre shopping mall at Vancouver in a March 2015 handout. Handout / Vancouver Sun
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A Vancouver neighbourhood group has asked a B.C. Supreme Court judge to review B.C. Assessment’s decision to drastically reduce the appraisal value for Oakridge Centre, a massive redevelopment site.

In 2014, after Vancouver council approved a site rezoning that would conditionally allow developers to build a mixed-use village, including 45-storey towers and about 3,000 condos, the property was assessed at $867 million. Site owner Ivanhoe Cambridge successfully appealed to the Property Assessment Review Panel, and the eight-block Cambie Corridor site was reassessed at $500 million. Under B.C.’s assessment act, land owners and the review panel can come to private agreements on reassessed value, which don’t have to be made public.

The South Vancouver Parks Society believes that B.C. Assessment’s procedures weren’t transparent and didn’t fairly account for the development value of the site. The society is arguing that Vancouver citizens have lost significant property-tax revenue with the reassessment decision. President Glen Chernen said the society estimates the annual tax revenue lost will be about $1.94 million. Chernen said he believes there are a number of similar cases involving reassessments of lucrative development properties in Vancouver.

“This is much more than a single, privately arranged, $367-million value reduction,” Chernen said. “It’s a small piece of a wider B.C. problem, where government-owned land interests are traded, valued and dealt, without public knowledge or involvement.”

The society challenged the Oakridge Centre reassessment with the Property Assessment Appeal Board this summer, asking to know the reasons behind the site’s value reduction. The board rejected the disclosure request, saying the reasons weren’t relevant.

The board upheld the assessor’s decision to revalue Oakridge Centre at $500 million. Now, the society has applied in B.C. Supreme Court for a review of the board’s ruling.

The society’s lawyer in the case, Bob Kasting, said he will argue the board failed to acquire the proper evidence to fulfil its purpose of finding the true value of Oakridge Centre.

“The board is supposed to get the true value of the property. But the assessment act allows for the property owner and the assessor to make a deal that doesn’t go public. And that is really what they’ve done here,” Kasting said. “Somehow the $867 million went down to $500 million. We don’t know why. And in this case, the board said, ‘I don’t even need to know why.’ ”

A central point to the board’s ruling this summer, Kasting said, was the board had two accepted ways of assessing the “highest and best-use” value of Oakridge Centre: either as vacant land with redevelopment potential or in its current commercial usage as a rent-producing mall. Chernen argued to the board that Oakridge Centre should be valued for its maximum rezoning potential. Using the estimate of an independent assessor, Chernen said the site’s true value was between $750 million and $1.1 billon.

Generally, in B.C.’s assessment system, the “theoretical focus of highest and best-use analysis is on the potential uses of the land as though vacant,” the board wrote in its ruling. The board, however, ruled that Chernen and the independent assessor didn’t support their rezoning-value case with reliable evidence, including feasibility studies.

“It may have been helpful to the board to have had a highest and best-use analysis that reflected the subject’s reality as a transitional property that was continuing its successful operation over the course of its planned development,” the board wrote.

The society will argue that the board should have asked for such an analysis or agreed with Chernen’s request for the board to review B.C. Assessment’s original 2014 analysis valuing the Oakridge Centre site at $867 million.

“We’re saying that is not good enough,” Kasting said. “They, the board, have the right to go back and ask the parties to provide that evidence.”

Ivanhoe Cambridge is expected to make applications in early December to have the case tossed out, Kasting said. If the society proves its right to argue the case in B.C. Supreme Court, the case will be heard next spring.

A spokesman for Ivanhoe Cambridge said the company will not comment on the case.

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City Hands Out $1.5 Million

City launches probe into $1.5M break to real estate developer

‘It was a serious mistake,’ says city manager

By Jane Armstrong, CBC News Posted: Dec 01, 2016 6:12 PM PTLast Updated: Dec 01, 2016 10:14 PM PT

The city of Vancouver has admitted that it gave a $1.5M discount to developer Onni when it built a 42-storey condo and rental unit at the corner of Richards Street and Pacific Avenue.

The city of Vancouver has admitted that it gave a $1.5M discount to developer Onni when it built a 42-storey condo and rental unit at the corner of Richards Street and Pacific Avenue. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The City of Vancouver has launched a probe into why a developer received a $1.5-million discount on construction fees even though it didn’t qualify for the break.

City manager Sadhu Johnston said the city made a mistake and has launched an audit to find out how Onni, the developer, received the deep discount under the city’s Rental 100 plan.

That plan allows developers to obtain waivers on their construction fees when they build much-needed rental apartments.

The 43-storey tower, called the Charleson, is located at the corner of Richards Street and Pacific Avenue. It contains a mix of condos and market rental units.

But under city rules, to qualify for a waiver, the development must be 100 per cent rental units.

Last May, a 1,000 square foot condo in the building sold for $1.3 million.

“It looks like we made a mistake,” Johnston said, adding he contacted Onni to inform the company of the error.

Development cost levies, or DCLs, are charged to developers to offset the costs that a development places on public infrastructure such as roads, parks and day-care centres.

The waivers were designed to encourage developers to build more affordable rental units.

City records show that Onni owed the city $4.5 million in development fees when it built the Charleson.

With the waiver, it paid just $3 million, Johnston said.

He said city auditors will also take a second look at the roughly 30 other developments that received discounts under the same program.

Developer doesn’t admit receiving discount

“As far as I know this has never happened before,” Johnston said. “It’s a very serious situation. We really need to understand how it happened and make sure it didn’t happen in any other instance and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

However, the developer has not agreed that a mistake was made. Johnston said he called Onni Wednesday, but the developer denied receiving a discount on the residential tower.

The Charleson building by Onni

The City of Vancouver says a review from its planning department found that a $1.5M discount was given to developer Onni in error when it built a 42-storey condo and rental unit at the corner of Richards Street and Pacific Avenue. The report also says that there is no evidence of fraudulent activity in the waiver. (Onni)

No one at Onni was available for an interview Thursday. In a written statement, the company did not admit that it received a discount.

“This matter regarding the DCL payment has recently been brought to our attention and we are currently considering it,” the statement said.

“Should there be an error we will rectify immediately.”

The $1.5-million waiver granted to Onni was the second biggest waiver granted by the city, according to a 2015 city report on DCLs.

Lawyer spots error

Lawyer Nathalie Baker was poring through that report while doing research on the city’s Rental 100 plan. She spotted Onni’s waiver and was curious because she wasn’t aware of a big rental building in the Yaletown area.

She found the rezoning application for the project, which did not request a waiver, noting the building was a mix of condos and market rental units.

Baker said she now wonders if other residential properties unfairly received waivers.

“The public needs to know what happened here.”

NPA Councillor George Affleck said he’s drafting a motion calling for a third-party audit of the DCL waivers.

‘If there was any inappropriate behaviour either by staff or political interference, it should be brought to the light of day,” Affleck said.

Aquatic Centre

Watch this! Public land sale: Eastern Granville Loop, with bridge ramp demolition, new Aquatic Centre, tall tower.

(Quick update: Vancouver Sun July 31 article says no offers have been received yet, and shows some Park Board commissioners had no prior idea about this plan to move the Vancouver Aquatic Centre out of the West End. VanRamblings provides additional info. Cedar Party Glen Chernen has put the entire info package online here. Metro News Vancouver has now also covered the story.)

Preamble: The City of Vancouver is quietly moving to sell public land at 1390 Granville Street and 625 Pacific Street. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake if a 500 foot tower goes up here, and private profits from public land. We start by saying at the outset that, going back to 2010 or earlier, we have noticed that certain decisions affecting this area north of the Granville and Burrard Bridges appear as if they were being quietly reverse-engineered to reach certain outcomes. WatchCoV web brochure, property-sale-1390-granville-625-pacific to see who benefits from this particular land sale process. The public may discover something surprising about how the City of Vancouver is functioning. And in this specific case, heightened public scrutiny might change the outcomes. Now, the story

Here are the main facts from the opening of the sale package. “The City of Vancouver is proceeding with the demolition of the old Continental Hotel building at 190 Granville Street in 2014. Upon completion of the demolition, the Property will be available for redevelopment in concert with the decommissioning and removal of the eastern Granville Bridge off ramp and ‘loop’….Redevelopment of the property is largely guided by the Granville Eastern Granville Loop site and photo, CoV May 2014Loops Policy Plan [PDF link here] adopted by Council in 2010 [note: under the NPA regime]. The City, in offering the Property for sale, is asking for some innovative proposals for the delivery of key public benefits for this area of the City although offering cash or a combination of cash and amenities will also be considered.” Among the amenities listed for consideration are “provision of 120 ‘turnkey’ non-market housing units,” the construction of “a renewed Vancouver Aquatic Centre on the Property,” the delivery of a “community amenity in the form of built premises of approximately 10,000 square feet for … Qmunity either on the Property or on other land located in the West End,” and more. The timeline in Schedule I indicates that the package was available for pickup the week of May 12, 2014, offer closing time is August 15, offer selection process is from that date to October 24, and “Council approval of selected offer” is prior to October 24. We note that this time frame allows the decision be be made under the current Vision Vancouver regime at City Hall, before the November 15 election.

The CiEastern Granville Loop, V-Sun advert, 28-Jul-2014, p2ty of Vancouver web pageResidential and commercial properties for sale” today has just one item listed: 1390 Granville St / 625 Pacific St, Vancouver. You can click the link to get this brochure about the city-owned property for sale, titled “Invitation for Innovative Offers.” On July 19, 2014, Cedar Party mayoral candidate Glen Chernen did a blog post saying “Bridge for Sale.”  This may actually have been the first time the sale was mentioned publicly (will correct this if otherwise). No media coverage resulted, to our knowledge. On July 28, a small advertisement appeared on page 2 of the Vancouver Sun, providing minimal detail, and indicating where you could pick up the sale package. On July 29, Chernen issued a media release on Scribd (Aquatic Centre / Granville Bridge Demolition Sale Plans Discovered) with a more in-depth review of the sale package.  (See also VanRamblings for commentary.) See bottom of this post for cover and table of contents of the sale package.

Just across Granville Bridge from this site, is the proposed site of the Vancouver House, a proposed 52-storey tower recently approved by City Council, to be built by developer Westbank. Here is an article in The Province (July 29, 2014) about that project: “Vancouver House tower makes enemies before it’s built by targeting Asian buyers”

Here is a photo of part of the subject property for this land sale. Granville Loops land for saleNow, for one of the reverse-engineering parts. The staff presentation by former Director of Planning Brent Toderian on January 20, 2011 paved the way for significantly higher buildings around the Granville Loops. The site of the Westbank B.I.G. tower was originally zoned for a 225 foot height; the Higher Buildings policy approved a 425-foot height for that site (with a 8-3 vote on Feb 1, 2011, with Vision in favour and the NPA and COPE against). CityHallWatch reported of the suspicious circumstances of that policy adoption, when a City staff report was released quietly online late on a Friday, the last working day before Christmas in 2010, we held a press conference the next day to raise attention, and due to public scrutiny, the Council decision was pushed back from the Tuesday, by nearly two months.) The height changes for downtown were eventually approved, and a 507 foot tower was later approved for Westbank through a rezoning. An open question is whether Westbank had any plans before the Vancouver Views policy study began for a higher building on that site. Here are the ‘before’ and ‘after’ heights from Toderian’s presentation:Vancouver Views p. 47 Jan 20, 2014

The area all around the Granville Loops is shaded and identified as a zone that is free of view cone protection or is only protected by the Queen Elizabeth Park View. This policy change was used to justify the approval of a 41-storey, 375-foot tower at Drake and Howe. Given the extra height approved for the Westbank tower, will the planning department support a tower in the range of 375 to 425 feet on this Eastern Granville Loop site? It’s worth noting that the views study presentation illustrated shadow lengths of not only 300, but also for 350, 400 and 450 feet for a tower on this site:
Vancouver Views study Jan 20, 2011 p.46
Many Continental Hotel residents were moved out to Collingwood where a former Ramada hotel was converted into senior housing (see our story on that here).
Photos of Continental Hotel site:
Cover page of sale package
Eastern Granville Loop, sale pkg, cover page