Stone on Viaducts last April: “discussions have been under way for quite some time with Vancouver”

Sorry, I just can’t seem to get enough of Todd Stone talking about the Viaducts proposal in Hansard.

Last week, Minister Stone warned there was no “done deal,” everyone should chill, the province had not been consulted. Today, he was ready to talk. Last April, he was happy the city and the province were in discussions — had been “for quite some time” –because there was money to be made!

Here, verbatim, are Stone’s replies to Point Grey MLA David Eby in estimates on April 28. The question: has the government delayed the sale of land on Area 10C, adjacent to BC Place Stadium, because of interest in the proposed replacement of the Viaducts?

Stone’s reply: “We obviously want to maximize the value of this piece of land. Depending on where the viaduct discussion lands at the end of the day, it will impact the value of the land — no question. The discussions are underway, or have been underway for quite some time with the city of Vancouver.” (Emphasis added.)

I just report the facts, folks. I can’t explain them. Here’s the transcript:

D. Eby: The minister has corrected me. It’s the government’s core policy. I guess that’s the core policy of government rather than a policy called core. Is that correct? We’ll have to follow up about that off line, because this is valuable time.

In the 2017-18 budget for PavCo, the five-year financial comparisons for operations, there’s a $15 million line item under “Other revenues.” I assume this is for the site 10C lands. I understand that the government has delayed the sale of the land given the uncertainty around the Georgia Street Viaduct.

Can the minister clarify whether there is any impact on the estimated value of that land given the fact that the viaducts may come down? And has PavCo considered the impact of the viaducts coming down with respect to the value of that land before it’s sold?

Hon. T. Stone: I think there are a couple of questions in there. I think the first question was: do the revenues that are indicated as other revenues relate to site 10C? Yes, that is correct.

Secondly, I think the member was asking if the number being in ’17-18 versus ’16-17 in some way represented a delay that we were anticipating in light of the discussion that’s ongoing with respect to the viaducts. The answer would be yes.

This is a piece of property that’s been identified as a surplus asset for government. We obviously want to maximize the value of this piece of land. Depending on where the viaduct discussion lands at the end of the day, it will impact the value of the land — no question. The discussions are underway, or have been underway for quite some time with the city of Vancouver.

We’ll hope to see those discussions move along as quickly as possible. That being said, at this point we’re quite confident that the projected estimate here of roughly just north of $50 million is a very reasonable expectation. Potentially, the end result could be more than that, depending on where things end up with the viaduct discussion.

D. Eby: Will PavCo engage another expert to provide an appraisal in the event that the viaducts do come down, or at least before selling it in 2017-18, given the volatility in Vancouver’s real estate market?

Hon. T. Stone: As I said in my last response, obviously, we’re going to do everything we can to maximize the value of this particular parcel of land. There is a very important discussion underway with the city of Vancouver with respect to the viaducts which the member rightfully pointed out. We want to do right by the city of Vancouver at the same time as maximizing the value there.

Absolutely, PavCo will engage an independent appraiser who will appraise the value of that land before it’s put on the market. That will, again, take place once we know where things end up with respect to the viaduct discussion that’s underway with the city of Vancouver.