2012 Charity Fundraising Appeal for Len Barrie

Editor's note: Three years ago, WTF Langford launched its first fundraising appeal for Len Barrie. But did you people listen and do the right thing? No, you did not. And tragedy followed from your negligence. So pay attention this time!

Len Barrie, the former king of Bear Mountain Resort, has fallen from grace into a dark, lonely place. Evicted from Bear Mountain, chased by process servers, hounded by media, and facing a fraud investigation – he is a hunted man.

Tragically, all this could have been avoided if you people had anted up the cash Len needed to stay above water back in 2009. He could have paid his taxes. He wouldn't have needed to "borrow" money to buy a hockey team. He wouldn't have been in Vegas trying to win it all back at the craps table (allegedly).

With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear we all share the responsibility.

There were cries for help every step of the way. Way back in 1999, when Len wantonly chopped down trees that belonged to his neighbour, a private golf club, was that not a plea for intervention? The neighbours could have cut him some slack – perhaps he is brain damaged, or something? - but instead, they threw him out of the club, and he was heartlessly spanked by a judge when he tried to sue them, of all things.

So of course Len rode his dirt bike up Skirt Mountain and decided to piss on everyone below. He would build his own golf resort empire and show us all!

How could we have interpreted this bluster as anything but the desperate posturing of a wounded soul?

When local indigenous people pointed out the heritage cave he was about to bulldoze, the bluster became a roar. It's mine, I own it, and I'll blow it up if I want to, he bellowed. I'll send my hundred-man crew to rough up the chiefs and anyone else who complains. Only now, with the passing of time, can we grasp that his heartless bullying and vicious racism was hiding another call for help.

When people started gossiping that Len was going bankrupt, we should have ignored it and trusted him with our money anyway. Why didn't we give him the highway interchange he wanted, and shut up about the native heritage sites and rare species? Our lack of empathy is painfully obvious to us now. 

Instead of a multimillion-dollar bailout, Len got nothing but heartache. Heaven knows, Langford's mayor and council did everything they could, even applying for federal handouts for their golden boy, but to no avail, thanks to meddling civic busybodies.  

Troublemakers have dogged our hero relentlessly. Five years ago, activists set up a tree sit camp to block construction of an expensive highway interchange to service his resort. Imagine the arrogance! Well, they got what they deserved from the Joint Task Force SWAT Team. It took 300 officers from as far away as Mission, BC, but they succeeded in arresting three unarmed hippy pacifists who were asleep at the time.

After the camp was evicted in 2008, the city of Langford got to work on the Bear Mountain interchange, thanks to a $25 million loan from TD Bank, on behalf of Bear Mountain. Things were looking great. Len Barrie turned his attention to his first love, hockey. He bought the Tampa Bay Lightning and began to run it into the ground.

Then, storm clouds gathered. Three years ago, auditors found that Barrie had apparently "borrowed" millions of dollars from his resort to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bear Mountain's auditors filed a letter of complaint with company's directors. Then they quit. One of the worried investors complained to the Globe and Mail that things suddenly weren't looking so good. 

By then, the resort was losing money. Bear Mountain missed its initial payment for the interchange ($5 million.) The city's application for federal and provincial infrastructure grants was unsuccessful. (Those meddling kids!) Overpass construction ground to a halt.

Around this time, Len went gambling in Vegas and allegedly racked up millions in debt at the Bellagio Casino. The casino tried to collect, but the personal credit documents Len had used as guarantees proved to be worthless, according to news reports.

Two years ago, HSBC, the bank that was feeding the black hole of Bear Mountain's voracious debt, decided to cut its losses ($250 million) and petitioned Bear Mountain into receivership in Vancouver Supreme Court. Len was removed as CEO and the whole board of directors was fired. Len and his partner sold the shattered remnants of the Tampa Bay Lightning at a huge loss.

Last year, Bear Mountain's creditors and investors – including NHL player Mike Vernon – got their payout under the Bear Mountain bankruptcy agreement: $500 each. Mike lost $10 million.

In December 2011, the Bellagio Hotel filed suit against Barrie for $2.2 million. Way to kick a guy when he's down!

Then the bank started seizing Len's property. On January 27, 2012, Len and his family were evicted from their $14 million McMansion on top of Bear Mountain, a stone's throw from the partially-demolished native cave.

His family trust fund is long gone. There is no more property equity. Lately, Len's stopped showing up to coach his BC Hockey League team, the Grizzlies, and he's holed up in Youbou instead. (That house is also in foreclosure.)

This spring, Barrie is scheduled to go on trial for criminal violations of the tax code from his Bear Mountain days.

Update: There are SIX criminal charges in total. 
Here's the first two:

Some may say that Len Barrie is nothing but a lowlife deadbeat. We say no, he's much more than that. He's a racist lowlife deadbeat, and still the most hated developer on Vancouver Island.

You think you have a rough life? If you have two nickels to rub together, you're richer than Len. So please give to our 2012 Charity Fundraising Appeal! Give now, and you'll receive a personal autographed copy of this photo:

Photo montage by Bruce Dean

 Do the right thing. Give Len your money!
Thank you.

The Mad Hatter's City Council

Most of our 2010 forecast was bang-on: Bear Mountain fell apart. The silly steam clock and toy train planned for the roundabout got scrapped, and there were more big drug busts in Langford. But who cares? That's all ancient history, now.

Above: Stew Young in the mayor's chair 
What lies ahead for Langford? 2011 is the Year of the Great Reckoning -- the year when the bills come due. We know this from the subtle signals of our beloved city council, like the non-stop gnashing of teeth, stamping of feet and screams of "Off with her head!" The omens are troubling, and our outlook is guarded.

Has Mayor Stew Young already lost his mind?

During the last council meeting of 2010, His Worship reportedly spent an hour and fifteen minutes ranting incoherently at two retirees who attended to raise concerns about Transportation Planning the Langford Way. Who can resist our Mad Mayor when he's delivering a feature-length monologue of cranky bluster, mostly about his love for himself and his disgust for anyone who disagrees with him? Meanwhile, a couple dozen councilors, developers, staffers and residents looked on in amazement or desperately wished they were elsewhere. For 75 minutes. AWKWARD.

Our panel of esteemed political science experts has one question: Who DOES this at a city council meeting? Seriously - in Canada? It's possible that in places like Corruptograd, the Republic of Absurdistan, the mayor gets to lord over his fiefdom with this sort of compulsive arrogance. But in North America, such embarrassing displays of rank intimidation are (thankfully) almost non-existent. (Except here. Welcome to Langford!)

Has Councilor Denise Blackwell already lost HER mind?
Denise Blackwell (left)
For some reason, on Christmas Eve, Councilor Blackwell decided to tell the newspapers that a local non-profit group is to blame for the Bridge to Nowhere. That's right, it's NOT because Council made a stewpid decision to borrow ten million dollars and then let some sketchy developers skip out on the bill. No, it's the fault of the people who warned them that the whole business could go south and leave taxpayers holding the bag. And those people should all STFU and MYOB, ASAP.

Have the mayor and council fallen through the looking glass into a Bizarro World where everything is opposite and upside-down? Does the mayor STILL believe that he can get federal and provincial grants for a developer-funded project? Is this 2009 all over again? Is Langford turning into Las Vegas? Are we stuck in some horrible downward spiral into madness? Only time will tell!

Don't miss the next exciting Langford council meeting! On the agenda: Stew Young recites Jabberwocky in an annoyed monotone while the Walrus, the Carpenter, Tweedledee and Tweedledum look on, and Denise Blackwell shouts "Off with their heads!"

Transportation planning the Langford way!

Everyone is thrilled to hear the city of Langford will now permit new subdivisions in the traffic-snarled north end BEFORE building new roads or interchanges or anything. This is how our council solves traffic problems, obviously! Because uncontrolled development solves every problem, even problems caused by uncontrolled development.

The five-year moratorium on new development north of the TransCanada Highway and the unfinished Spencer Interchange is history. On Monday, December 20, city council scrapped policies that were intended to halt new residential construction until the interchange is finished. Increasing traffic congestion on Millstream Road was the reason for imposing the moratorium in 2005.
For your convenience, today's WTF? commentary is composed entirely of footnotes. From the Goldstream Gazette:
Even if rezoning applications start rolling in now,1 high-density property developments wouldn’t start adding cars to the congestion for two or three years,2 [Mayor Stew] Young surmised, buying the City time to build a pool of money,3 while securing grants from senior governments.4 Young expects to raise $4 or $5 million from amenity fees in the next two or three years.5
“We figure we have at least two and a half years before feeling the impact of lifting the moratorium,"6 Young said. “Once a plan is in place, we can move forward and apply for (federal and provincial) grants.”7
1 Whose rezoning applications? Bear Mountain Resort and South Skirt Mountain Village already have zoning in place.
2 Don't worry about the hundreds of dump trucks, bulldozers, earth-movers, cranes, and contractors coming and going during the years of construction. They won't add to the traffic problem.
3 A shallow pool in an ocean of debt (see notes 1 and 5).
4 Wrong. Spencer Interchange is privately-funded and doesn't qualify for grants from provincial and federal taxes. Way back in 2008, Langford council passed a bylaw to borrow $10 million on behalf of Bear Mountain and South Skirt Mountain, over the objections of more than 2200 citizens. It's now council's responsibility to get the loan paid off. A federal bailout sounds like great idea, but the city is not permitted to download the debt onto taxpayers who had no say in electing them. Oops.
5 The interchange is expected to cost around $32 million.
6 In two or three years, Millstream could have gridlock for hours every day.
7 See note 4.

UPDATE: Barrie busted

Update: The WTF Langford editorial board would like to apologize for announcing that Len Barrie was arrested for tax evasion. Apparently, no such thing has happened, and it's a simple misunderstanding with Revenue Canada. (Ha! Of course!) The entire staff of WTF Langford has been fired over this error. 

However, we still plan to attend Len's criminal trial, now set for FEBRUARY 19-21, 2013 at 850 Burdett Street, Victoria. That's when Len goes on trial for two counts of Epic Tax Fail. He will be tried separately on FOUR MORE counts in 2014.

Screen capture from Court Search Online. Click for a close-up.

Barrie faces foreclosure, loss of his 15,000-square-foot McMansion

His resort is bankrupt, his properties are facing repossession, and his half-built interchange sits abandoned and un-paid-for. But Len Barrie wants you to know he's still in the game! He could make an offer, anytime! But maybe he doesn't realize he's at the mercy of the Curse of Bear Mountain, the torment of all greedy and stupid people who disturb native grave sites. Here's how the curse works: first it sucks away your money, then your mind, then your soul! Bwa ha ha!

Len Barrie's house, a stone's throw from the native cave he blew up. Photo: A News.

Once upon a time, Barrie's house was mortgaged for almost $14 million. Now the interest is $1400 a day, and the bank is calling in the loan, and all the other loans on the other properties. The moral of the story is: don't screw people over. The end.

For sale: brand new overpass, never used


Bjola lies in the weeds

Update: Bjola's motion was dismissed by the court, with no explanation.

Oh ho! Les Bjola, the Vancouver Island developer who was once Len Barrie's right-hand man, has mounted a strategic challenge to the bank that now owns Bear Mountain Resort, because it is not being fair to him!

Locals will remember how Bear Mountain wound up owing $250 million to HSBC bank, and how the bank started creditor proceedings back in March 2010. Well, Bjola himself is one of those creditors, through his company, Turner Lane. And he is so outraged over HSBC's high-and-mighty court orders that he's thrown down the gauntlet.

Bjola, it turns out, hates tyranny so much, he would turn down any chance at getting his money back rather than accept HSBC's evil Restructuring Plan. The plan is evil because it is "unfair," Bjola complains in an affidavit filed July 20, 2010 in BC Supreme Court. It is unfair because HSBC gets a larger vote than the other unsecured creditors.
[HSBC] chose this process, and it should not now be allowed to make a sham of it by structuring the Plan so that the vote on the approval of the plan is a foregone conclusion, particularly where, as here, the principal re-organization effected by the plan is the transfer of virtually all of the respondents' assets to a new entity wholly owned by HSBC.
Bjola acknowledges that if Bear Mountain Resort crashes without the intervention of HSBC -- through foreclosure or bankruptcy, for example -- his company gets nothing. But, never mind that! "HSBC must not be allowed to trump a fair process."

Putting on his Vengeful Fortuneteller hat, Bjola predicts HSBC's Restructuring Plan will fail. HSBC has promised to pay off creditors like Bjola once the resort starts making money again. But our boy LB says he has the inside scoop about the resort, and apparently it will be a cold day in hell before they make a dime. So he's decided to piss in everybody's cornflakes, because that is the only intelligent thing to do.

But the high-and-mighty HSBC lawyers are having none of Bjola's piss-soaked cornflakes. They should be bending over backward for the Man Who Pimped Bear Mountain. Clearly, he belongs in a class by himself! But instead, they issue this snippy response:
Turner Lane was given notice of these CCAA proceedings and of the hearing of the Petition. It chose not to file an Appearance in these proceedings ... It is too late for Turner Lane to object to the Plan ... Had Turner Lane simply filed an Appearance, it would have had notice of that application and could have made submissions during the two days over which the motion was argued. Instead, it has chosen to lie in the weeds and raise its concerns weeks after the Procedural Order was made.
Shocking! No one has ever accused Bjola of "lying in the weeds" before. "Prevaricating in a council chamber," maybe. "Misrepresenting on a berm," definitely - but that's just a multi-million dollar lawsuit and probably won't amount to anything.

Speaking of lying, Langford folks will recall that Bjola got himself put in charge of redeveloping Colwood Corners, a billion-dollar project which never got off the ground. Then part of it suddenly burned down in a mysterious fire, and certainly no one is suggesting that there's a connection to anyone's cash flow problems or organized crime issues. Ha ha, no, not at all! At any rate, Bjola has hustled off to Prince Edward Island until things cool down.

However! Bjola's Kettle Creek Station project is going great, by all reports, and none of it has burned down. You can still choose from many different styles of 400-square-foot housettes (porches and carports optional) with neighbours close enough to touch and an unobstructed view of the industrial park. They are very cheap!

Insiders laugh at Kettle Creek and call it the Langford Ghetto, which in Langford, is really saying something. But they are just jealous! Everyone knows people are desperate to live in crackerboxes.

In summary, we should note that in today's real estate market, expectations must be downsized. The experts agree it's a race to the bottom. And Les Bjola is WINNING!

Social Networking with Mayor Stew Young

How cool is this? Stew Young, our very own mayor-for-life, has mastered the hot, hip, new social media of blogging and Facebooking! Young has forged bravely into the second millennium and started up his very own blog on Blogger, where he personally posts summaries of exciting City of Langford press releases. For example:

New Sports Field is a Hit

and in case you didn't get it, here it is again:

New Sportsplex Will Benefit a Growing Community

Yes, the new Sportsplex will "fill a void in the region for bowling enthusiasts." How admirable is that? But it gets better! Someone has created a Stew Young Fan Page on Facebook! And it's been up since February! Let's check in.

Congratulations to Stew Young - winner of this year's WTF Award for Excellence in Social Media!

(Update: The fan page pictured above has been DELETED. Well, if you can't win, don't play!)

Bridge to Nowhere re-named in honour of Langford mayor

In a simple but heartfelt May Day ceremony, Langford's finest installed this tribute to Mayor Stew Young at the Bear Mountain Interchange.

Hundreds of commuters enjoyed the salute to Langford's mayor, and plans are in the works for a permanent marker to acknowledge Young's unique contribution to the half-built, unfunded interchange. The banner memorializes Young's heroism in smacking down residents who questioned the wisdom of borrowing up to $25 million for the project, and those who argued that a sacred cave and rare ecosystems were more important than enhanced highway access for a bankrupt resort.

Now that the Bear Mountain and Skirt Mountain developers have defaulted on paying back the cost of construction, Langford residents are taking the initiative to honour the mayor who made it possible. From the beginning, Stew Young led the charge to push the project through at any cost. The climax came in February 2008, when he arranged for a hundred RCMP officers to descend on a small protest camp in a military-style raid. The cops kept onlookers away while city crews cut the trees and filled the sacred cave with rebar and cement.

Artist's concept of a permanent Stew Young memorial

The original name of the bridge, Bear Mountain Interchange, was axed by Langford council in favour of Spencer Interchange, a confusing term that refers to Spencer Road half a kilometer away. The label Bridge to Nowhere is more accurate, but it may be trademarked by former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, so it should be avoided for official purposes.

The STEWPID Bridge, on the other hand, is PERFECT.

You won't have Len Barrie to kick around anymore

He's gone! But can he still play golf in the club?

Well, that was quick! Who wants to be next?

Eco-group destroys democracy

UPDATE: Our long nightmare is over - the verdict is in, and the court gave us its blessing. Hooray, let's get back to work destroying forests and heritage sites for cheap little condos! If these eco-people will let us. Hm, how likely is that?

Apparently some little eco-group that no one's ever heard of thinks it can take the City of Langford to court! This so-called "Forest Action Network" has the NERVE to try to overturn our council's fast-tracked approval for South Skirt Mountain Village, the most amazing new condo-tower development ever in the history of the world. This case could spell the end of all forms of economic development in Langford, causing everyone to lose their jobs and eventually forcing us to hunt rats to survive.

Everyone knows Langford has an infinite amount of undeveloped forest land. INFINITE. We will never run out! Forests exist to be used and exploited. So don't just sit there, go cut down some trees! It will be good for the economy.

Furthermore, we're assured by South Skirt Mountain spokeslizard Ron Coutre that this "Village" will be super-extra-double-plus-green-and-sustainable, designed as a public service to transform a barren mountainside – home to a ridiculous number of wildflowers, native trees, animal species, seasonal creeks and indigenous cultural sites -- into an eco-paradise of pavement, condo towers, shops, and industrial parks. This will be accomplished in an environmentally-sensitive way, by blasting the hills to smithereens and filling the valleys and wetlands with tons of rubble, and then paving over most of it.

The South Skirt Mountain developers have given their solemn word that they will destroy only 60 percent* of the rare ecosystems and indigenous sites between the abandoned interchange and the insolvent Bear Mountain Resort. So what's the freaking problem, already?

Clearly this mega-sprawl plan is FULL OF AWESOME. And yet, it's not enough to satisfy mouthy tree-hugging doomers. Well, they can suck an egg. We spit on people who think they can hold Langford Council to account for its "unique" brand of decision-making. People who are negative are killing Langford's economy, and democracy! Clearly, anyone who stands up at a public hearing and disagrees with the Mayor should be flogged and ridden out of town on a rail.


*Or more. Whatever.

Len Barrie: Debt of a Salesman

Hey, so -- everything's just fine up at Bear Mountain Resort. Yes, we know they had to close the real estate sales office in Langford. But it's OK! Len's cutting costs -- by reducing sales and advertising and customers and staff and revenue. Lean and mean, that's the new Bear Mountain machine!

Anyway, most of Bear Mountain is about to get sold, for a million billion dollars. This time, for real! None of us knows anything, but we are absolutely breathless with anticipation.

And yes, we know Bear Mountain hasn't paid the $4.9 million it owes for the Langford highway interchange, a bill that's been overdue since March 2009. But that's OK! Langford's city council doesn't care if or when Len pays the money. They can always borrow more, or get the taxpayers to pay, or get the new owners to cover it, or something. Len has plenty of other debts that are much more important than a measly municipal government, so shut up and get in line.

We do realize there's ten thousand lawsuits* pending against Len Barrie and Bear Mountain, but never mind that. That's normal for an edgy, hard-hitting business guy and ex-hockey dude. It's good for the economy -- keeps the lawyers at work. So shut up about that too, while you're at it.

In fact, all you complainers can stuff a sock in it. Len Barrie has plenty of friends. He doesn't need you. Unless you have a million billion dollars -- in that case, please get in touch ASAP.

*Plus or minus 9,980 or so. We can't keep count.

A Good and Righteous Killing (Updated)

Updated Feb 1, 2010

Introducing the West Shore's hottest celebrity family: the Brotherstons! A "pioneer" family made famous by rugged logger and municipal-councillor-turned-killer Ken Brotherston, with help from sons Ken Jr. and Greg. The three men faced second-degree murder charges in the brutal beating and strangling death of Keith Taylor, a Colwood man with a fondness for cocaine, in front of his friends last May.

On Friday, January 29 2010, Ken Sr, Greg, and Ken Jr. were found not guilty by BC Supreme Court justice Janice Dillon. Reasons for judgement here. (Caution, graphic content.)

According to cops, paramedics, and the defendant's testimony, Ken Sr. beat and strangled Taylor nearly to death while his sons prevented witnesses from interfering. Then the men put Taylor's body in Ken's black pickup truck and drove it to the West Shore RCMP detachment in Langford.

The brutal and brazen beating death shocked a community, most of whom are hearing the horrific details now for the first time. So, what does it all mean, and why?

To answer that question, we've enlisted the super sleuthing skills of WTF? secret agent Totallycanadian, our code-named private investigator posing as an anonymous CBC.ca commenter in Kelowna.

Totallycanadian reached the verdict before the trial even started: It was a good and righteous killing.
you mess with the bull you get the horn.

i hope theses gentlemen get to go back to their families and resume their lives.

let me know where to send my twenty bucks in support of the brotherstons
UPDATE 1 from secret agent Knotalone, who is also disguised as a mild-mannered CBC.ca commenter:

To bad the guy died. It appears he may have tried to intimidate the wrong person.

We all know what would have happened had Ken Brotherston gone to the police and complained about the threat.

I would bet that he went over there to give Taylor a beating that he would not soon forget and would think of before he threatened someone's family again.

A lot of people would do the same.

You can threaten most men and even get into an altercation with them with no serious repercussions.

Threaten there family though and there protective instincts kick in.

Brotherston doesn't sound like the type of person who has spent his life beating on people, he must have thought the threat was serious.
DEAR SECRET AGENTS TOTALLYCANADIAN and KNOTALONE: Thank you for solving this murder! We will all rest easy knowing that if some oversized "pioneer" got offended and decided to bash our brains out in front of our friends, it would be TOTALLY RIGHTEOUS. Because that's what justice looks like, here on the West Shore.

Our secret agents have shown us that this is how a community SHOULD function. Might makes right. God bless, and please don't kill us.

(PS - if you're throwing money around, we could really use the twenty bucks?)

UPDATE 2: More Brotherston supporters are wading in, with suggestions on WHO ELSE should be savagely beaten to death, for good and not for evil!!

At CBC.ca

gulfislands wrote:
Posted 2009/11/17 at 11:57 PM ET

Justice has been done. More people should look after things themselves, as the courts will not look after them
Via Craigslist:

rave murders (westshore)

Date: 2009-11-17, 4:37PM PST
Thank god they did us another favour, one less drug dealing scum that litters our streets thinking they are a street punk/thug, guess he finaly met his match. f*** off you little puke. You wreaked havoc on the kids and druggies in town wich leads to the breakins beatings muggings and drug trade.

Good for the brotherstones for settling it once and for all wich the courts dont have the balls to do. Now hopefully the courts are as screwed up with the brotherstones as they are with all the other drug scum and they basicaly walk away, did they take a life, maybe, but none worth much and was more destructive to society than any minute benifit they gave. Good riddence i say, let others like the brotherstones clean up victoria and the westshore
Lock up the women and children -- looks like the good old boys on the Wild West Shore are getting ready to start a rampage! Let's call it the Street Justice Honour Killings League of Gentlemen rampage. It will be good and righteous and everyone can join in and be a hero.
From the WTF? comments:
Anonymous said...

WTF?WTF; A RIGHTEOUS MURDER?? That would only be one if it involved several internet "reporters".
Ahem! Us internet "reporters" have politely and officially asked NOT to be killed (see above) during the Street Justice Honour Killings League of Gentlemen rampage. The deal is velvet handcuffs, not baseball bats, OK? Please, get with the program.

Our Most Disastrous Predictions for 2010

Happy new year! 2009 sucked like a wind tunnel, and 2010 will probably suck like a black hole ripping open the fabric of the space-time continuum. Welcome to the future -- misery, confusion, and public policy scandal, with running commentary from the wise-asses here at WTF Langford? (Our motto: "Sorry we're so darn right all the time.") Enjoy our eight worst predictions, and don't say we didn't warn you.

8) Drugs, death, and violent crime
It's not much of a guess, with all the cocaine-related arrests, beatings, and so forth in the past year. But hold on -- who buys coke these days? Everyone knows cheap homemade meth is the thrifty maniac's new drug of choice. Watch for this trend to take off in the coming year!

7) The Brotherstons: Guilty, or really guilty?
On January 29, we find out if the judge accepts the lone-killer-acting-in-self-defense argument offered by former Highlands councilor Ken Brotherston to explain how a Colwood crack user wound up dead at the hands of Ken and his two sons. Our verdict: Nope, they all should have pleaded insanity.

6) Parkland for sale
Langford has committed to selling two parcels of parkland between Florence Lake and Bear Mountain. No one knows why, since the parks were originally designated as a buffer for the new development. We don't expect the counter-petition to succeed in bringing the issue to a vote, but the BC Supreme Court could certainly settle the question of whether Langford can legally sell a neighbourhood amenity.

5) Roundabout to NowhereLangford has committed something like a million dollars for a traffic roundabout in the middle of Goldstream Avenue in front of Western Foods. No one knows why, since the roundabout will be a huge pain in the ass. Worse, the traffic island is supposed to include a bizarre assortment of faux-Western kitsch -- a fake train, a fake watertower, and a fake steam clock. Yes, really! We predict the funding for this vanity project will dry up before it's finished. If not, at least folks will be laughing too hard to make snarky comments.

4) Interchange to Nowhere
Apparently the developers misplaced the money to pay back the $9.75 million borrowed for the half-built Bear Mountain interchange. So the city will continue to beg federal and provincial agencies for a bailout. Of course, they will continue to fail,

If the developers default, council can legally seize the properties pledged as collateral for the loan -- including Bear Mountain Resort and the South Skirt Mountain properties. But then what? Looks like the good people of Langford will still end up paying back the loan. Oh, what a tangled web ...

3) Bear Mountain's new owners
Sorry kids, no rich Arab investors will be riding up to rescue Bear Mountain Resort. Watch as pieces of Len Barrie's crumbling empire get snatched up by HSBC, Revenue Canada, Palace Sports and Entertainment, and the city of Langford by default. But cheer up -- things could get worse! Barrie and the resort could be facing bankruptcy, more tax foreclosures, even allegations of fraud. Ouch! Remember, the harder they come ...

2) Langford's financial crisis
This turn of events won't surprise folks who noticed that Langford's Fudge-It Budget counted $50 million in federal and provincial grants as revenue. No one knows why, since the grants were only hoped-for, and most of that money did not materialize. Adding to the pain: lost development fees, ill-advised tax deferrals, interest on the unpaid Bear Mountain Interchange loan, and a bad case of hubris.

But never mind all that. Langford will continue to beg for grants, the city will authorize a loan to cover the shortfall (plus more interest), and anyone who questions the mayor and council will get told to STFU, as usual.

Don't expect to hear much from Mayor Stew Young and the rest of the crew in 2010. They will be too busy meeting with finance ministers, provincial officials, regional directors, accountants, and lawyers, trying desperately to sort out the mess they made. We hope they succeed. Nobody wants a forensic audit, right?

1) Market Crash 2010
Forget the hype about the economy "recovering" -- this bubble is about to burst. Despite the artificial inflation of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending, bailouts, and low-interest loans from CMHC in 2009, collapse is looming for Vancouver Island. Once the bill from the Olympics comes due and oil prices rise again, there will be a great levelling of fortunes across the region. So buckle up, buttercup! Enjoy the good times if you can, and brace for impact.

Google Street View comes to Langford

The Google Street View people drove all over Victoria and Langford last summer. Let's see what they photographed!

Welcome to Langford!

Florence Lake boardwalk

Tim Horton's

A $7 million Bear Mountain property

The interchange ....

Wait ... The images are a bit distorted, but it looks like there's a message on that bridge, doesn't it?

Oh dear! There are two messages. The second says "Stop Sprawl." (Either that or "SStop Sprawrawl.")

Well. This confirms what we already knew -- Google is in league with hippy leftist enemies of progress. And these scoundrels are MOCKING our city's efforts to wipe out graffiti, native caves, and rare species.

Mayor Stew Young has a personal mission to stamp out the evils of graffiti by throwing the book at young offenders. But oops! Now, thanks to the Google conspiracy, everyone in the world has to see these horrible, anti-social messages defacing our glorious Bear Mountain Interchange, which is Young's pet project. Is he going to let these elitist outsiders get away with this outrage? Hell no!


Update: some have complained that they went to Google Street View and couldn't see the graffiti. Click here and follow the instructions for the best viewpoint.

Len's Scuttled Butt

Poor Len Barrie. First, Vancouver Island's most racist developer didn't get his bailout, then he defaulted on his debt to Langford, and then came all the accusations that he stole millions and millions of dollars from his Bear Mountain Resort. Now we hear he's lost his hockey team, all his potential investors have fled, and he's facing the ultimate humiliation: the dreaded RevCan rectal probe.

The Globe and Mail reports that the Canada Revenue Agency is going after Barrie for allegedly not paying taxes on the money he allegedly stole.

Ex-Lightning co-owner subject to probe
David Shoalts

Len Barrie is still listed in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s media guide as a co-owner of the NHL team, but those close to the team say he is out of the picture.

His financial problems with the Bear Mountain golf resort and housing development near Victoria were severe enough to scuttle his attempt to buy out fellow owner Oren Koules in late summer. Now it appears as if the problems will worsen.

In the wake of a damning report by the company’s former auditor that accused management at Bear Mountain of misappropriating funds, a source said Canada Revenue Agency is looking into the development’s finances.

Barrie, who was accused in the report and by a member of the development’s executive committee of improperly financing at least part of his share of the Lightning with Bear Mountain funds, did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the rest here.

Rail Trail Fail

Log it, pave it, call it a "Green Initiative"

Overheard at the E & N Trail bike path Open House in October:

Langford resident: "Where are the trees? I don't see any trees in these plans."

Langford staffer: (Chuckles and strolls away)

Langford's latest "environmental initiative" is a fresh new clearcut 15 meters wide and 300 meters long (and still growing!) Heavy machinery lumbers backand forth in a massive rut along Atkins Road and the railroad tracks between Veteran's Memorial Parkway and Savory School.

A thriving little second-growth ecosystem has been stripped out - garry oaks, hemlocks, cedars, berry bushes and all.

Overhanging branches from large trees on neighbouring properties were ripped down by the excavator operator. Many Granger Road homes now have a fabulous view of Atkins Road across the tracks, unobstructed by greenery or privacy.
Last summer, the railroad right-of-way was a shady and pleasant path populated by thrushes and finches. Next summer, it will be a dead strip of asphalt baking in the sun.

But don't be alarmed! This "Green Intitiative" only looks like they're building a new highway to nowhere!

(Psst: you're doing it wrong.)



Update: There were NO BIDS on the Bear Mountain properties at the auction. Party poopers!

Whatever you do, YOU MUST get your ass down to Langford City Hall on Monday, September 28 at 10 am sharp for the real-estate auction of the year! One lucky bidder could scoop up this $7 million property for as little as $351,000!

Lot A, Plan VIP81958, Sec. 81/82/84, Bear Mountain Parkway (outlined in blue). It's just past the "tunnel" on the way to the resort, for local reference. Photo credit: CRD.

A second multi-million dollar property at 2198 Navigators Rise (Parcel ID 025-088-106) is also on the block, and bids start at $75,000. A mere pittance! Bonus: Len Barrie's had a development permit on the property since 2004. So anyone with a little patience should be able to unearth all kinds of arrowheads, artifacts and native bones. Imagine the tourist market potential!

Why invest in piddly
Bear Mountain Resort "shares" (at full market value) when you can OWN prime real estate (with full commercial and residential zoning) for literally PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR?*

Hey, you're not stupid, are you? Of course not! So come on down to Lenny and Phil's once-in-a-lifetime (so far) tax auction! Come early, don't be late!

*Some conditions apply. Winning bidder must wait up to one year for current owner to default. Check local bylaws for details about expensive interchange re-payment covenants attached to at least one of the properties.

Video: Len Barrie's Empire is "Crumbling"

Mayor Stew Young is AWOL and Councillor Denise Blackwell is dodging calls from the media. Only Acting Mayor Lanny Seaton has the guts and integrity to face the public and bravely ... blame city staff for failing to tell him Len Barrie missed his $4.79 million payment on March 2, 2009. Yes, that's what happened -- council just wasn't "advised!" Plus, sparring accountants and investors, and a woman whose house on Bear Mountain is literally crumbling!

We're sorry, Langford

All of us here at WTF Langford? Headquarters send our deepest regrets. We failed you. Despite working around the clock for months, plowing through mountains of city documents, and risking permanent brain damage from prolonged exposure to Langford's mayor and council, we somehow missed the big story that was right in front of us.

We're sorry that Len Barrie defaulted on the interchange loan. (Maybe he hasn't defaulted yet, but WTF does "postponed indefinitely" mean exactly?)

We're sorry to hear that Bear Mountain is on the verge of financial collapse.

We're sorry about the five-to-ten-million-dollar hole this leaves in the city budget, and in our pockets. We're sorry about the five million dollars more that everyone in the province paid for this mess. We're sorry Langford is trying to screw everyone in Canada for $32 million in new construction costs.

We know it's not our fault, but we're very sorry that we didn't bring this to your attention sooner. After all, Barrie's repayment date passed six months ago. How could we miss that? How can we call ourselves Langford's top gossip-mongering muckraker scandal-rag now? What happened to us?

And we're really really sorry for being so damned right all the time. Really. Langford city officials and their developer buddies keep fulfilling our lowest expectations and worst predictions. We wish they would prove us wrong, just once. We would be delighted to be wrong! Maybe then we could stop yelling, "WTF Langford? We WARNED you this would happen, you smug hypocritical BASTURRRRDS!"

Len Barrie: Toxic Sludge?

In the past year, we've heard a boatload of rumours about Bear Mountain going bankrupt, getting sold, seeking re-financing and more, including bizarre stories about men in black! helicopters at midnight! hookers and blow! etc. But now the Globe and Mail has brought some of the financial facts to light, and yes, it's shaping up to be just as sordid as you'd expect.
Barrie accused of misusing funds
UPDATED Wed. Sept. 2
David Shoalts, Globe and Mail. Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Len Barrie took money improperly from the Bear Mountain resort and its investors in order to pay for his share of the Tampa Bay Lightning, according to a member of the real-estate development's executive committee.

Scott Bye, a financial adviser to a group of NHL players who was appointed to Bear Mountain's executive committee after the players became concerned about its finances, said yesterday that Barrie, the chief executive officer of Bear Mountain, owes the company "between $16-million and $20-million dollars."

Barrie told The Globe and Mail on Monday that all of the money in question was either paid back or accounted for, following a damning report by the company's auditor, but Bye said yesterday this was not true.

"To my knowledge, zero," Bye said in a telephone interview from his office in Fargo, N.D., when he was asked how much of the disputed money was paid back by Barrie.

Read the rest.
Bear Mountain may indeed be a money-losing bottomless pit (as we predicted last week) but will it turn out to be a money-losing bottomless pit run by thieving criminal lunatics? That's the question of the day!

Related: Where's Len Barrie's Bailout?

Toxic sludge! Super-mineralized semi-liquid refreshment, straight from the 19th hole. A lifetime dose of manganese in every mouthful!

Why Boycott Bear Mountain?

Would you support a company that paves over rare species, breaks its promises, relies on force and intimidation, and destroys native cultural sites?

Here on Vancouver Island, Bear Mountain Resort has earned a reputation for conflict and racism. Since 2006, company officials have bullied and intimidated First Nations leaders and environmentalists in their rush to develop sensitive ecosystems and cultural sites. Bear Mountain owner Len Barrie and his top deputy Les Bjola admitted to reporters that they orchestrated two violent confrontations that sent a hundred Bear Mountain construction workers to confront a native gathering at Spaet Cave in 2006 and a small rally on the highway in 2008. Encouraged by their bosses, the contractors - including workers for Scansa Construction - swarmed both gatherings en masse, and pushed, shoved, kicked, spat at and threatened native leaders and local conservationists. Their actions were captured by TV cameras and YouTube and shocked the community.

Barrie brags about destroying the sacred cave and sending his goon squad to abuse native elders. His resort is built on native grave sites. He destroyed beautiful and rare ecosystems to build a tacky golf resort on a windy, cold mountaintop. His arrogance and double-dealing have made him one of the most-hated men on Vancouver Island.

Barrie and his investors chose to make backroom deals with the City of Langford and the province to fast-track his resort development. He chose not to consult with local residents, respect aboriginal rights, comply with environmental best practices, or accommodate the community in any significant way. And now he is facing the consequences.

Why would ANYONE do business with Bear Mountain Resort?

WTF is going on at Bear Mountain??

Photo mosaic by Pete Rockwell
We don't know either! But someone's been talking to David Shoalts over at the Globe and Mail, so he's got the inside scoop. Apparently, Bear Mountain Resort owner and former hockey player Len Barrie is expected to lose his part-ownership in the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. The team was losing almost $3 million a month the last we checked. It wouldn't surprise us if Bear Mountain turned out to be a revenue-losing bottomless pit too.

Most of the construction crews were laid off at the beginning of 2009. The grocery store that was scheduled to open this year has pulled out, along with Vancouver developer Robert Quigg. A dozen or so lawsuits are pending against Barrie and the resort.

Some highlights from Shoalts' column:

Barrie ... is fighting to save that gamble – a massive development near Victoria called Bear Mountain.

Like many real estate developers, Barrie and his 17 investors – who include current and former NHL players such as Mike Vernon, Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Ray Whitney, Rob Blake, Ryan Smyth, Sean Burke, Rob Niedermayer, Scott Mellanby, Matt Pettinger and Trevor Kidd – were whipsawed by falling prices and the drying up of bank credit.

Nobody saw that coming, eh? Well, greed does strange things to people. Cue the world's smallest violin orchestra, playing a sad waltz.

Some of those investors are angry and some are not, but they all have two things in common: They are not talking about it and all fervently hope Barrie can pull a rabbit out of his hat.

As opposed to blowing sunshine up their butts? These poor suckers must be praying for an obscenely-wealthy rabbit with impaired judgement.

He needs to work out a new financing deal on the 500-hectare development that includes two golf courses, a resort, hotel and as many as 5,000 condominiums, townhouses and residential lots.

And an interchange! Don't forget that. How many resorts come with their very own half-built highway project?

No doubt some were concerned when Vernon, who is one of the largest investors, sold his custom-built Calgary house this week for a city-record $10.3-million. Vernon would not comment on the sale, but one of his friends said it had nothing to do with any problems with Bear Mountain.

Maybe it's a problem with the location. Was the house built on a native burial ground, by any chance?

The B.C. project was going well until last October, when the worst of the recession hit. Suddenly, housing sales dried up and the value of the project dropped. Even worse, Barrie's bankers got nervous about the big loans that came up for renewal this year.

Uh oh. Did someone say "default?"

Barrie did announce recently that he closed a deal worth $350-million with Siraj Capital Ltd., an investment company based in Dubai. ... Under this arrangement, Siraj Capital gets control of the residential side of the Bear Mountain project for what amounts to a $350-million loan with stiff terms.

Does that mean they'll own the rest of the native cultural sites on the mountain? Will they get to blow those up like Barrie did with the cave? We know they don't get the mineral rights with the deal.

But even this depends on Siraj being able to raise the $350-million by selling units in a weak market. If the units cannot be sold by the first week of October, the deal will likely die.

In the past year, they've tried flogging condos in Spain, United States, Canada, and BC, with little success. The sales office in Victoria, 20 km from Bear Mountain, went tits-up way back in 2007.

The reason all of the Bear Mountain investors are keeping quiet, even the unhappy ones, is that none of them want any negative vibrations to kill the Siraj Capital deal. They see it as the only hope of getting their money back, let alone making a profit.

Jeez, STFU and don't queer the deal!

If successful, it may also go a long way to soothing Barrie's major lender, HSBC. Apparently the bank wants to be repaid a lot quicker than Barrie thinks is manageable (say two years versus five or more) and it wants higher fees than Barrie is willing to pay.

Hah! It must be a pleasure doing business with such a gentleman.