Vancouver’s Missing Files

Winter 2016/17 – Criminal Complaint: Just over a year ago, I shared certain findings regarding the City of Vancouver 508 Helmcken land disposal with the Federal Serious and Organized Crime Financial Integrity division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Although it is uncertain what may come of their involvement, a Freedom of Information investigation continues with the BC privacy Commissioner regarding my pursuit of related public records held by the City of Vancouver.

2016 – Present 2018 – OIPC Investigation: The parallel 508 Helmcken Freedom of Information complaint has been treated as an investigation by BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner for approximately one year.

508 Helmcken Records: The City have legal care and custody of financial and appraisal public records which they have not yet provided despite repeated requests. I continue to demand these documents as they may answer many questions about how the disposal process of City owned property and the calculation of CAC (negotiated fees) were conducted. In addition, invoices for various contractors and appraisers the city funded through a 3rd party “transaction advisory service” specialist, have been sought.

Missing Records – Learned recently in 2018: Approximately one year after my complaints were made, I discovered that Vancouver’s City Manager had pressured the Vancouver Sun to adjust a story written about this property disposal. I also learned through reading publicly available City staff emails, that our City Manager had been informed City staff could not find the financial records for this transaction. The City manager then proceeded to inform all elected officials on April 13, 2017 that the “records to support the analysis could not be found in the file”.

What happened to the documents? City Must Respond: What makes this situation different from most other FOI requests is that we have determined that the City had this information but for some reason they don’t have them now? The real question for the City is – If you don’t have them, where did they go? The BC Information & Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) has given the City of Vancouver over a year to produce the requested information but it is now time for city staff to provide real answers to OIPC investigators.


Background

February 2013 – An $80 million appraisal was completed in regards to a City land disposal sale but was not disclosed to Council or the public. The 508 Helmcken disposal relied upon this $80 million dollar appraisal as part of the loan security for a loan issued by BC Housing. Despite this, city staff informed the public that the disposed land value was only $15 million dollars.

2015 – Property disposal vote – On page 10 of a March 10, 2015 staff report, City officials continued to indicate only a $15 million value. Various government officials had years of knowledge at this point, that the deal had relied upon a minimum $80 million dollar property, bare land value, based on 2012 market data but did not disclose this information to Council prior to the Council vote to approve the disposal.

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