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.
Welcome to Langford!
Florence Lake boardwalk
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!
Next: MAYOR YOUNG THREATENS TO SUE GOOGLE!
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.
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
Read the rest here.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
Barrie accused of misusing fundsBear 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!
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.
Related: Where's Len Barrie's Bailout?
Would you support a company that paves over rare species, breaks its promises, relies on force and intimidation, and destroys native cultural sites?
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?
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:
Nobody saw that coming, eh? Well, greed does strange things to people. Cue the world's smallest violin orchestra, playing a sad waltz.
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.
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.
Jeez, STFU and don't queer the deal!
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.
Hah! It must be a pleasure doing business with such a gentleman.
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.
We love to deconstruct stupidity and expose duplicity - so cheers to the Gazette for this wonderful opportunity to do both!
Langford in No Hurry to Finish InterchangeOh? Is that why Langford called in 100 armed officers with dogs and sniper rifles to clear out a few protestors? Is that why they disregarded established civil law process and then used feller-buncher machines to nuke every last tree in a matter of hours? Is that why they gave Leigh Road homeowners FIVE DAYS to submit to the city's buyout/expropriation order? Is that why they didn't consult with the community al all? Holy crow, WTF would Langford do if it WAS in a hurry? Bulldoze the houses with the people still inside? Drop a bomb?
By Edward Hill - Goldstream News Gazette
Langford officials say there is no big rush to finish the $25-million project, now eyed for 2010 or 2011.
Last summer, the Spencer Road Interchange construction area was a hub of work. These days the area is quiet and Langford says completion hinges on getting connector roads built on Skirt Mountain.Of course, let's build the secondary roads first, then maybe we'll put in the highway access. Makes perfect sense!
“There is no functional urgency at this point,” said interchange project manager Tim Stevens. “The Spencer Road intersection at the highway is still working.”WHAT? That's madness! Don't you remember? If the interchange doesn't go forward, everyone in Langford and Victoria WILL DIE!!
Langford mayor Stew Young came out with guns blazing to defend his council’s decisions, telling those in attendance that if the interchange is not built “You will kill Langford’s economy—you will kill Victoria’s economy." ("Bylaws play to packed house," Monday Magazine, January 23, 2008.)
Oh well, that was then. This is now...
Stevens said the amount of planning is considerable, especially along Leigh Road where poles, power lines and other infrastructure needs relocating.Uhhh, but they told us this thing's been planned since like 1994, when Len Barrie first rode his dirt bike up the hill and decided to piss on everyone below. We're confused now. What exactly does Langford's planning department DO? Didn't they notice the power lines on Leigh Road when they supposedly started designing this monstrosity so many years ago?
Wait, here's the kicker.
Langford acting clerk administrator Jim Bowden said the pace of construction depends on if the City gets millions in government infrastructure grants to help build connecting roads between the interchange and Bear Mountain Parkway.Ah, yessss, those preciousss government grants. As we've pointed out, there may be a little problem with that. Don't forget the city is including those unreceived grants as revenue in the 2009 Fudge-it Budget. Which reminds us: WTF is going on with Langford's accounting department?
Interchange construction also depends on the pace of the 2,800-unit south Skirt Mountain development, he said.Ha ha! Good one, Jim! But WRONG. Please refer to the Master Development Agreement, a signed, enforceable contract between the city and the South Skirt Mountain developers. Here's Schedule C, page 26, paragraph 4 of the Agreement:
"The Owners shall not carry out any work on any portion of the Lands, including construction of buildings, installation of works or services, or clearing or grading of land, until Phase 1 of the Trans-Canada Highway Spencer Road Interchange has been completed and is fully in use" (although that could change if they got an order from the Transportation Minister.)
Bowden goes on to say
Bowden said the interchange is still on budget and the City hasn’t needed to borrow beyond $9.75 million authorized by council. Bowden said the City has borrowed between $5 and $6 million for the project.Here's the original:
Bowden said the interchange is still on budget and the City hasn’t needed to borrow money yet. Council authorized Langford to borrow up to $9.75 million for the project.
Stop the presses! Oh, too late, ten thousand copies have already been printed and distributed. (Ten bucks says we won’t see a correction next week! Ha, suckers.)
Remember, folks, it is NOT ILLEGAL for city officials, politicians, and even journalists to lie (in most cases). So don’t worry – nothing shady is going on, just Langford business as usual!
Right: the construction site in happier days, when construction was happening. Times Colonist photo.
The new TransCanada Highway connector demolished a rare karst cave and garry oak meadows after enduring a mock counter-petition, a ten-month long tree-sit protest, and a massive raid by dozens of RCMP officers that evicted a handful of interchange opponents in 2008.
Apparently, the situation has deteriorated since then. The Interchange Consultation blog reports on this continuing tale of fail.
Work Grinds to a Halt, a Full Year Behind Schedule
The Spencer Road Interchange (also known as the Bear Mountain Interchange) was scheduled for completion in May 2009. As of August 2009, it appears abandoned. All the heavy equipment, construction crews, and security personnel were withdrawn from the construction site in early July. Gravel roadbeds and a concrete overpass sit unfinished and empty.
Observers suggest that the city of Langford has already spent its $10 million line of credit from TD Bank, and that no money is forthcoming from the property developers the interchange would serve. Meanwhile, Langford's application for a Building Canada Fund grant for the interchange and the connecting road to Bear Mountain Resort appears to be in limbo. In the Goldstream Gazette, MP Keith Martin complains that he can't get a response from Ottawa about taxpayer funding for the project.
The city's application for federal and provincial grant money is controversial. Critics note that the project was billed as "100% funded by the developers" both in verbal promises to voters and in bylaws adopted by the city.
The most serious charge dogging the grant application is that the funding would amount to a cash gift to the developers, a practice forbidden by the Local Government Act. Any borrowing to cover the municipal portion of the grant would also be subject to a referendum by petition. Langford circumvented this step in 2008 by declaring the interchange a "Local Area Service" that would be paid for by the property owners who stand to benefit. However, the city can't have it both ways. Either the interchange is a Local Area Service and funded by the developers, or it is a public-funded project and the voters can approve or reject the spending in a referendum.
More infrastructure grant awards are expected to be announced in September, 2009. Original construction schedule here.
Witnesses say the bridge has already been tagged a couple times - with anti-sprawl graffiti. Tsk! Kids these days.
Filed under: bridge to nowhere, bailout, cash gift, protest, Langford f----ups, blah blah blah, we told you so.
Confidential and discreet!
An online search of the provincial court registry confirms that the BC Supreme Court complaint, filed in Vancouver on June 17, calls out Bjola, partner Vance Walle, Emerald Park Estates, and Wilfert Holdings development company for a long list of expensive failures at the site of Sysco's new food distribution warehouse at Goldstream Meadows. The warehouse site is located in the industrial park (a former wetland) just west of Langford Lake near Amy Road, West Shore Parkway, and the TransCanada Highway.
Sysco charges, among other things, that the developers did not properly prepare the site for construction and failed to meet the basic requirements of its contract. Damages are close to two million dollars and costs are still mounting, the complaint says.
Bjola and Walle are being sued individually for "misrepresentation." Ouch! If successful, this action may spell the end of Bjola's ambitious career as Len Barrie's right-hand man and the driving force behind the billion-dollar Colwood Corners fantasy redevelopment.
Read the whole scandalous complaint here. (Disclaimer: none of the allegations have been proven in court yet.)
Blackwell's last day as Administrative Assistant was Friday, May 30. Her replacement is Julia Taylor. Blackwell stands to collect a provincial pension to go along with her federal pension and her Langford City Council salary.
Meanwhile, the top-secret archeology report for South Skirt Mountain is being re-drafted. A plane crash from 1967 is now designated a heritage site, putting the whole South Skirt Mountain development on hold.
All we can say is, the Archeology Branch has pretty strange priorities when plane wreckage from the sixties rates more protection than sacred caves and native graves.
While there are exactly ZERO lawsuits pending against critics of Stew Young and Bear Mountain (despite the public threats), the mills of justice are set to grind over Mr. Barrie and company from at least ten different directions.
CHAPPLE, Dallas versus LGB9 DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Supreme Court (Civil) Victoria Law Courts 090461
February 3, 2009
KIM, Ho versus SPROULE, Dale
BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD.
Supreme Court (Civil ) Victoria Law Courts, 090940
March 4, 2009
CHORNEY, Brian versus BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD. FORMERLY KNOWN AS LGB9 DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AS BARE TRUSTEE FOR BEAR
MOUNTAIN MASTER PARTNERSHIP
March 4, 2009 (details unavailable)
DESERT TELEVISION MEDIA GROUP INC. versus BEAR MOUNTAIN MASTER PARTNERSHIP
Small Claims, Victoria Law Courts, 090233
March 9, 2009
WESTECK WINDOWS MFG. INC. versus BARRIE, Leonard
BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD.
Supreme Court (Civil) Vancouver Law Courts, 091944
March 13, 2009
BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD. versus RAMSEY PAINTING LTD.
Supreme Court (Civil) Victoria Law Courts, 091324
March 26, 2009
CANADIAN WESTERN BANK versus BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD.
Supreme Court Enforcement Proceedings, Victoria Law Courts, 091387
March 31, 2009
ROYAL BANK OF CANADA versus 18 ON 18 DEVELOPMENTS LTD.
BEAR MOUNTAIN MASTER PARTNERSHIP
Supreme Court (Civil) Vancouver Law Courts, 092686
April 8, 2009
KOKANEE MORTGAGE MIC LTD. versus SIMONS, Catherine
BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD.
Supreme Court (Foreclosure) Nanaimo Law Courts, 56277
April 17, 2009
COOPER, Christine versus BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD.
Supreme Court (Civil) Prince George Law Courts, 0934470
April 30, 2009
RAMSAY PAINTING LTD. versus BEAR MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT HOLDINGS LTD. FORMERLY KNOWN AS LGB9 DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
Supreme Court (Civil) Victoria Law Courts, 092076
May 12, 2009
When we have time, we'll post an update on the lawsuits from last year....
- John Horgan, NDP - 11008 - 57.10%
- Jody Twa, Liberal - 6624 - 34.36%
- Big money doesn't always win the race.
- Stew Young is not a king-maker.
- Jody Twa is unemployed.
Special thanks to our expert WTF? political panel for pointing out that provincial ballots are counted by hand, not by Diebold machines.
"the residents of Langford love their Mayor and Council, how else do you explain 6 terms for Stew Young and the overwhelming results for the Council in the last election, hello?"
Well, Anonymous, apparently a whole lot of people really don't love their Mayor and Council, and we've had so many "hot tips" in response to this question, it's like a dozen family-size cans of worms got upended in the WTF? inbox all at once. We had to call in the WTF? strategic response team to investigate this slimy mess. Let's just say we have some questions about the last municipal election.
Inquiring minds want to know:
- Despite Langford's population growth, extra polling booths and long long lineups on voting day, the official tally says the total number of votes was the same as the last election. Surprise! Could it be that hundreds - or even thousands - of votes were never counted?
- Did the chief electoral officer actually make the opposition's scrutineers leave before the election tally was finished? If so, why?
- Were the ballot boxes, in fact, left unsecured at City Hall after the advance polls, and left unsealed as the scrutineers were hustled out the door?
- Were the Diebold vote-counting machines rigged to lose votes? (Vote-rigging has been reported elsewhere.)
Yes, this mayor and council are still seated at City Hall, despite their apparent unpopularity. Strange rumours indeed! But it seems none of the challengers filed a complaint, so what ya gonna do?
WTF Langford? welcomes your questions, comments, love letters, hate mail, threats, etc. Don't be shy!
Check it out -- $50.966 million from "Other Sources"? Damn! That's 60% of the budget!
Inside Langford reports: "The five year plan is interesting as it seems to have budgeted the assumption of receiving several grants,* an apparently unusual accounting technique (the more common technique appears to be to adjust your five-year plan after receiving a grant, than budgeting as if you were going to receive it when you don’t know whether you will or not)."
And don't worry about asking questions about the budget -- there's no public participation on the agenda for this meeting.
Update: The budget was passed without a single comment. So there.
Updated update: $32 million in grants for the allegedly "private-funded" Bear Mountain Interchange were rejected, possibly because handing federal money to private companies is considered corrupt or something.
"One of the things I thought when I took on this job was 'Is this riding winnable?' And I would not be standing here today if I did not absolutely believe this riding is winnable. And when I look out tonight and see how many people are here and I recognize so many. And I know how hard this community works - how hard the Westshore works - I've changed my opinion. This riding is going to be like a machine. If we build up to May 12, it's just going to be like a machine that gains momentum. And the day May 12 comes, the work will be done. They'll be no reason to even vote in this riding because we'll have worked so hard that we'll be elected." - Jody Twa, September 4, 2008.
The Fundraiser That Wasn't There
May 08, 2009
Last year, Bear Mountain spokesperson Trish Lees told us a group of local businessmen organized a $10,000 per plate provincial Liberal fundraiser at resort developer and former National Hockey League player Len Barrie's residence. But the party's latest annual financial report - which is supposed to list all of its fundraisers - doesn't include any reference to that event. So why is that?
Well, because it wasn't actually a fundraiser, according to Liberal communications director Chad Pederson. "I've talked with our accounting staff and I've learned the function that you're referencing was, in fact, a thank you dinner for those that had made previous contributions for showing their support," he said, adding "there was no cost associated with (attending) the dinner."
So what about Ms. Lees's statement that there was? "The woman that you're referencing in your original story wasn't a representative of the party, she didn't have a role in the dinner's organization. So I don't know what she was referring to in her previous comment about that," Mr. Pederson responded.
Um, so - the Liberals decided they would wait until now to issue this clarification? Sure, that's believable!
Developers have turned their covetous eyes to the farmlands of the Happy Valley, where they foresee a future of subdivisions, cheap condos and mega-dollar signs. But farmland is protected by the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve, and there are lots of rules about taking farmland out of the reserve to build condos and other crap. (This is a good thing; otherwise we'd be importing all our food from Brazil.)
Because turning farmland into condos brings a fat windfall profit, the rules are very particular about making sure land-use decisions are fair and honest and accountable, in order to stop what prissy lawmakers in Victoria call "corruption and graft." But this is Langford, so HA! suckers.
First, Matthew Baldwin, the evil troll in charge of Langford's planning department, tried to reject citizens' letters about keeping farmland in the reserve. When confronted, Baldwin grudgingly admitted that yes, Langford does have a decision-making process of sorts, and perhaps people should be allowed to comment. That's all -- no apology, no making amends to the people he told to f$@# off. At any rate, Langford got about 70 letters about the farmland - 69 in favour of keeping it in the reserve. (Although some of those letters were "lost" and never made it to the public hearing. Oops!)
Then, alert council-watchers noticed a new agricultural advisory committee member sitting at the table and voting on the applications. Oddly enough, this advisor had the same last name and first initial as the owner of the parcel under consideration. Oh, um, strange coincidence?
Ha! No! Mr. Thomas Atherton, member of the advisory committee, just happens to own that parcel of land on Happy Valley Road. And yes, he voted to forward his own application to the province. And YES, Mayor Stew Young and Langford council know all this! And OF COURSE they think it's JUST FINE!
Are you done laughing yet? Because that's not the punchline. Langford's rules about the advisory committee state:
The membership of the Committee shall maintain strict confidentiality, particularly with respect to individual applications for ALR exclusion, and no member of the Agriculture Advisory Committee shall have an active application before the committee. (Emphasis in original.)OK -- still laughing? Last point: AFTER Atherton's conflict was pointed out at the public hearing, council STILL went ahead and voted to recommend the applications to the Agricultural Land Commission. Unfortunately for them, this application is headed straight for the round file. Why? Last month, a BC Supreme Court judge threw out a land-use decision because one of the land commissioners voted on an application about his neighbour's property. The judge gave the commission a very public spanking to teach them a lesson about conflict of interest.
So, anyone want to bet the commission will decide to turn a blind eye to this latest conflict of interest? Ha ha! We didn't think so!
Seriously, people - WTF will Langford do next? We don't know either! Stay tuned!
Elections BC records show that the boys of Bear Mountain seem particularly smitten with the Liberal’s campaign, as players associated with the luxury golf-course development have opened up their wallets.
Bear Mountain Master Partnership sent the Liberals a cheque for $24,900. Les Bjola’s Turner Lane Development Corporation added $10,000 to the BC Libs’ kitty, a sum matched by Bear Mountain’s vice president of corporate and legal affairs Philip LeSeur through a numbered company of which he is sole proprietor. Len Barrie threw in $2,000 of his own cash, and Dale Sproule, the project’s director of real estate, kicked in $335.
A little further down the slope where the South Skirt Mountain project is underway, Russ Trace, through a combination of his Capital City Paving company and personal donations, kicked in $2,300 to the Libs re-election efforts.
Even Langford mayor Stew Young got in on the action, making a $1,500 donation through his Evergreen Industries, the alternate business name of his company Alpine Disposal and Recycling.
With former Colwood mayor and West Shore development aficionado Jody Twa running against the NDP’s John Horgan in the riding, it only makes sense his old friends would help the cause.
Meanwhile, no record could be found in Elections BC’s filings as to whether the Last Tree in Langford had scraped together enough cash to donate to its own preservation.
WTF Langford? got the tip from alert observers who spotted the consultants skulking through the brush near the gravel pit north of Amy Road. Now journalist Ross Crockford confirms that the area is listed as a provincial heritage site.
Last year, Crockford, a contributor to Victoria Boulevard magazine and other fine local journals, visited the crash site and interviewed the families of the two men who were lost. The report and photos are posted on his blog, Unknown Victoria.
The plane was a water bomber piloted by Alex Davidson and Paddy Moore, the Flying Fireman. They were answering an emergency call about a fire near Goldstream Park on a hot day in July when the plane went down.
"The plane crash site is technically considered a protected area for heritage protection," Crockford said. He explained that every plane crash and shipwreck site gets a provincial designation that sets a two-kilometer-wide buffer zone around the site as a protected area.
What next? If the developers don't get a waiver that allows them to develop within two kilometers of the site, it has been suggested that they should create a memorial park and leave the crash site undisturbed.
And the 8,000-year-old grave sites on the mountain should get the same respect. Amen.
Let's talk about real issues, like my role in Colwood's "economic miracle." Er, well, actually, I have nothing to say about that. But those sign vandals really make me mad.
Click the image to enjoy the full-size screen capture.
OK, we know Langford Mayor Stew Young doesn't literally have one leg. What we mean is, he's barely got a leg to stand on. His city is divided. To be blunt, at least as many people hate him as love him. (Except, the haters don't vote as often.) So what does Young bring to Twa's campaign, other than his good looks and charming personality? Big-money backers, we suppose. But as we've seen recently, big money is not enough to win elections. In fact, our analysis suggests that Twa's close ties to big corporate backers like Bear Mountain Resort could make him a target for a backlash against the culture of political favouritism.
In any case, according to our esteemed WTF? political panel, Young's supporters are basically the same as Twa's, so he's preaching to the converted rather than bringing in new voters. But Young will definitely draw the haters! That's why our blue-ribbon experts conclude that Young may actually lose votes for Twa. Whoops!
And how will a brazenly partisan Liberal mayor help Langford's citizens? What if the Liberals don't form the next government? Wouldn't that make his relations with the province a bit awkward? And how will he resolve potential conflicts of interest? Almost all local officials are adamantly NON-PARTISAN, for good reason. But that Stew Young, he's just mavericky. Ain't it a hoot?
But never mind all the political crap! What's important is taking care of business, right? So let's see .... While Young is running around stumping for Twa, Langford's budget for 2009-2010 is still unfinished. WTF is taking so long? Bad news, we expect. Big debt. Low revenues. Higher taxes. [UPDATED update: Creative accounting takes time .... Please don't look too closely at the $50 million that isn't there.)
Meanwhile, Young and his council face getting dragged into court to defend themselves against charges of bias and conflict of interest once they adopt the South Skirt Mountain bylaw, which could happen any time. And the city still hasn't found a new Clerk Administrator to replace Rob Buchan (who was summarily fired earlier this year, says the grapevine.)
Helluva time for a one-legged mayor to get into an ass-kicking contest. But it should be entertaining!
According to INSIDER GOSSIP, the city of Langford has proposed that the torch relay should go up to Bear Mountain Resort.
Yes, it seems that mayor Stew Young would like to bestow yet another undeserved gift on Len Barrie, the beleagured owner of Bear Mountain Resort on Skirt (Spaet) Mountain in Langford. And make no mistake, this is a HUUUGE present - the endorsement of the world's largest sporting event, and a million-dollar marketing advantage.
Who else is boosting this Torch Relay to Bear Mountain concept? Keen observers say that Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals are in bed with Len Barrie. They note last year's $10,000-a-plate Liberal Party fundraiser at Barrie's castle on the hill and suggest that the gift of the Torch Relay is the party's way of saying "thank you." (Although it sounds more like "f#$% you" to us.)
Oooh, can you just smell the power and money and burning Olympic dreams?
HOWEVER! Like the attempted bailout, we predict this little s#$%storm is not going to materialize. Why? Let's just say we know people. People with morals and the power to use them. And we should point out that people who destroy native graves suffer the consequences.
One consequence for Barrie is getting called out as "Vancouver Island's Most Racist Developer." Does anyone think the province's "New Relationship" with First Nations supports presenting the Olympic Torch to the man who willfully destroyed a million-year-old native artifact?
In any case, it would be stunning to see a couple thousand zombies march on Langford this Halloween. Or will the spirits of the dead rise and take revenge on the greedy ones who desecrated their graves?
We expect an official announcement about the Torch Relay route
Please join us in supporting ex-hockey player and struggling Vancouver Island resort developer Len Barrie. This week, we inducted Barrie into the WTF? Hall of Flame and awarded him the first annual West Coast Wetiko “Cannibal of the Year” prize. (See sidebar, below.)
In 2006, Barrie set the stage for his entrance into the Hall of Flame by deliberately blowing up a native cave to build his golf course, after sending gangs of construction workers to harass native elders. Naturally, Barrie was hailed as a hero by his posse in Langford, which is home to some of Vancouver Island’s most racist rednecks.
Barrie clinched the Wetiko Prize by uniting with fellow developer Ron Coutre and Langford City Council behind an application for a $24.5 million federal infrastructure grant that would benefit the developers.
You see, Barrie has fallen on hard times. But your tax dollars can help make sure he doesn’t lose his 15,000-square-foot castle at Bear Mountain Resort, 20 km west of Victoria. If you haven’t owned a castle, you can’t possibly know how humiliating it is to rent a crappy condo and fly coach instead of first class.
The West Coast Wetiko (“WEE-ti-go”) Prize is dedicated to lost heritage and self-destructive insanity. Noted author Jack Forbes describes the Wetiko worldview this way: “Brutality knows no boundaries. Greed knows no limits. Perversion knows no borders. This is the disease of the consuming of other creatures’ lives and possessions. I call it cannibalism.”
To honour Barrie's status as "The Most Racist Developer on Vancouver Island," an award ceremony is planned for later this year.
- Barrie Busted
- Len Barrie: Debt of a Salesman
- All Bear Mountain's Lawsuits
- Bear Mountain Resort to get the Torch?
- WTF is going on at Bear Mountain?
- Len Barrie: Toxic Sludge?
- VIDEO: Len Barrie's empire is "crumbling"
- ONE DAY ONLY! BEAR MOUNTAIN PROPERTIES 95% OFF!!!
- Len's Scuttled Butt
Would you support a company that paves over rare species, breaks its promises, relies on force and intimidation, and destroys native cultural sites?
Barrie actually 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 cold, rainy mountaintop. His arrogance, double-dealing and brutality 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 cooperate with the community in any way. And now he is facing the consequences.