'A colossal failure': Secret deal for prime Vancouver real estate that saw low-income families evicted finally public
VANCOUVER -- For years former MLA David Chudnovsky made it a crusade to obtain the sales contract of Little Mountain social housing in Vancouver, and on Tuesday morning he proudly held up the document in front of television cameras and reporters.
“Here it is. The contract we’ve been asking for,” Chudnovdky said, admitting he didn’t like the details in the purchase-and-sale agreement, calling it a “sweetheart deal” for the developer.
The circumstances around sale of the prime land near Queen Elizabeth Park have been a mystery since Holborn Properties Ltd. purchased the land in 2008.
The 15-acre parcel was bought for $344 million. Hundreds of low-income families were evicted and their old homes destroyed.
Holborn promised to build more social housing, but so far only a few dozen new units have been built.
The contract obtained by CTV News through the Freedom of Information process, shows the developer received a loan from the province of $211 million, which is interest-free until Dec. 31, 2026. There also appeared to be no clear deadline as to when most of the development needs to be complete.
“Where'd they get that money? They got it from us, the people of British Columbia,” said Chudnovsky. “This Holborn development has been a colossal failure, an embarrassment to the people of Vancouver, and an insult to homeless and under-housed people in B.C.”
The agreement was negotiated by the provincial government at the time, the B.C. Liberals.
“British Columbians expect government to work with municipalities and the industry to create supportive housing. That was the goal of this project and, while proceeds of the sale were used to develop more than 2,100 new supportive housing units across B.C., clearly the intended outcomes have not been met to date,” wrote Interim B.C. Liberal leader Shirley Bond in a statement issued Tuesday.
“We need to understand why this lack of progress, which is far too common, occurred and how we ensure that all levels of government can improve to prevent significant delays from happening.”
CTV News reached out to Holborn Properties Ltd, but the company has not responded.
Chudnovsky called for a public inquiry and wants the sale renegotiated.