THE NDP on Tuesday launched yet another attack on BC Liberal Leadership hopeful Kevin Falcon, this time demanding that he explain why he supported a sweet deal with a private developer who evicted 700 people from their affordable homes in 2009 and has yet to deliver on a promise to build much-need housing in Vancouver.
The CBC reported on the release of documents through Freedom of Information that revealed key details of a 2008 agreement signed by the former BC Liberal government where it sold the six-hectare Little Mountain social housing site to Holborn Properties.
The NDP noted that under that agreement signed when Falcon was a senior cabinet minister, Holborn was allowed to demolish 224 affordable housing units and in return was to build 282 new social housing units in addition to constructing another 1,400 market homes on the site.
Thirteen years after the agreement was signed, only about 53 units have been constructed and the site remains largely vacant at a time of chronic affordable housing shortages in Vancouver.
Details of the agreement provide some of the reasons why things have gone so horribly wrong.
- Holborn is required to pay $334 million for the site but the entire balance is not due until December 2031, nearly three decades after it made the deal.
- To date Holborn still owes the government $240 million.
- Holborn is only required to make payments after it has completed its market housing and is receiving revenue from those projects.
- Holborn has been provided a loan of up to $88 million to build the social housing units that have yet to be completed, a loan that is not repayable until 2050.
The NDP said that as the frontrunner for leadership the BC Liberals, Falcon needs to come clean on how much he knew about this deal and whether he still supports the sale of public land and affordable housing to private developers that don’t deliver on their commitments.
MEANWHILE, former NDP MLA David Chudnovsky called on the government to establish a public inquiry into the deal.
He said: “How could this tragedy have happened? We need answers and we need them now.”